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Full text of "Sketches of aboriginal life"

THE LIBRARY OF THE 

UNIVERSITY OF 

NORTH CAROLINA 




ENDOWED BY THE 

DIALECTIC AND PHILANTHROPIC 

SOCIETIES 



PS3129 

.V5 

A5 



UNIVERSITY OF N.C. AT CHAPEL HILL 



10002938047 



This book is due at the WALTER R. DAVIS LIBRARY on 
the last date stamped under "Date Due." Hd^ 
may be renewed by bringing it to the library. 



DATE 
DUE 



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r Lb i Q <-woZ 



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Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2012 with funding from 

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 



http://archive.org/details/sketchesofaborigOOvide 



AMERICAN TABLEAUX, 



PS J 
/'■ -5" 



SKETCHES 



ABOEIGIIAL LIFE 



'Tis like a dream, -when one awakes, — 
These visions of the scenes of old ; 

'Tis like the moon, when morning "breaks ; 
'Tis like a tale round watch-fires told. 



By V. V. VIDE. 



NEW-YORK: 

PUBLISHED BY BUCKLAND & SUMNER, 

79 JOHN-STREET. 

1846. 



Entered according to Act of Congress, in (he year 1846, by 

BUCKLAND & SUMIMER, 

in the Clerk's office of the District Court of the United States, for 

the Southern District of New York- 



Stereotyped by Vincent L. Dill, 
128 Fulton st. Sun Building, N. T. 

C. A. Alvord, Printer, Cor. of John and Dutch sts. 



PREFACE. 



The American Tableaux lay no claim to the res- 
pect and confidence, which is justly shown to authentic 
history ; nor do they anticipate the ready favor usually 
accorded to high wrought romance. They are neither 
the one nor the other. The general outline is designed 
to be historical, and true to the characters of individu- 
als, and the customs of nations and tribes; and the 
drapery in which it is arrayed is intended rather to 
illustrate the truth, and place it in bolder relief, than to 
weaken its force by irrelevant inventions. It is propos- 
ed rather to shade and color the naked sketches of his- 
tory, and restore them to their natural setting and ac- 
companiments, than to alter or distort them. The cha- 
racters of history are usually stiff, cold, and statue-like, 
and their drapery, if they have any, is of the same 
marble rigidity with themselves. The Tableaux would 
transfer them to canvass in their natural colors, strongly 
relieved by a back-ground of familiar scenery and every 
day associations, and shaded or lightened, as the case 
may be, by the sorrows or joys of social life, and the 
cares or honors of public station. It may be pre- 
sumptuous to hope that all this has been accomplished. 
It is safer to say, it has been attempted. 






CONTENTS. 



THE AZTEC PRINCESS. 

CHAPTER I. 

SMGE 

BIRTH AND EARLY LIFE OF TECUICHPO. - 15 

The Horoscope — Faith in the revelations of Astrology — Monte- 
zuma in his palace — The message delivered — Resignation — ■ 
Fatalism — Infancy of the Princess — The slave Karee — 
Obtains her freedom — The Chinampa — Genius and faith of 
Karee — Her devotion to the Princess — Chivalry of the Aztecs. 



CHAPTER II. 

YOUTH OF THE PRINCESS — HER EARLY LOVE REVEALED 

. PROPHETIC ANNOUNCEMENT, AND SUDDEN ARRIVAL OF 
THE SPANIARDS. - - . - - 27 

Superstitious forebodings of Montezuma — Loveliness of his daugh- 
ter — Her suitors — The Prince of Tezcuco-— -Ka-ree-o-than — 
A secret revealed — Guatimozin — The ancient legend — The 
young Pythoness — Her vision — Warning and appeal — The 
vision realized — The pictured scroll — Agitation of Monte- 
1* 



VI CONTENTS. 

zuma — A second courier — The royal council — Courtesy to 
the strangers — Splendid embassy — Their meeting with Cor- 
tez — Munificent presents — Avarice of the Spaniards — They 
make interest with the Totonacs, and send proposals to Tlas- 
cala — Their proposal rejected — They meet and conquer the 
Tlascalans — An alliance formed — The compeers of Cortez — 
Xicotencatl — The strength and weakness of the Aztecs. 

CHAPTER III. 

SUPERSTITIOUS FEARS AND VACILLATING POLICY OF MON- 
TEZUMA. - - 45 

Frequent embassies and rich presents to the Spaniards — Monte- 
zuma, fearing to act openly, plots their destruction secretly — - 
Cortez cautioned by the Tlascalans — His prudence and strict 
discipline — Cuitlahua urges Montezuma to bold decided mea- 
sures — Scene in the royal garden — Mysterious chant — Warn- 
ing—Its effect — Montezuma roused to action — Energy of 
Cuitlahua — The army in motion to repel the enemy — Confi- 
dent of victory — The monarch changes his plan — A strata- 
gem — Cholula — The army arrested in its march — The Span- 
iards in Cholula — Hospitable reception — Sudden change- 
Suspicion of treachery — Perilous position and bold bearing of 
Cortez — His demand upon the Cholulan princes — Charges 
them with conspiracy — Their alarm and apology — Terrible 
massacre — Conflict on the great Teocalli — The Spaniards 
victorious — Painful position of Cuitlahua and his army — Tlas- 
calans in Cholula. 

CHAPTER IV. 

AGITATIONS IN THE CAPITAL — THE ROYAL HOUSEHOLD — THE 
SPANIARDS STEADILY ADVANCING. - 65 

Montezuma's duplicity — Shuts himself up in despair — Divided 
counsels — Mistaken policy — Triumphant advance of Cortez — 
His ambitious views — His military caution — Montezuma in 



CONTENTS. Vll 

his family — His youngest daughter — Her loveliness — Her 
clouded destiny — The royal household — A family scene — A 
dark superstition versus a cheerful faith — Excursion on the 
lake — The royal cortege — The Princess — Guatimozin — The 
dream and its echo — Prophecy — Signal and sudden return — 
Preparation to receive the Spaniards — Cacama's embassy to 
Cortez — Exchange of courtesies — Reception of the strangers 
at Iztapalapan — Lofty bearing of Cuitlahua — The Capital 
and its environs. 

CHAPTER V. 

ARRIVAL OF THE SPANIARDS AT THE CAPITAL — THEIR 
RECEPTION BY MONTEZUMA — DETERMINED HOSTILITY 
OF GUATIMOZIN. - - - 81 

Singular relative position of the Spaniard and the Aztec — The 
power and timidity of the one, and the danger and bold- 
ness of the other — Speculation — Cortez advancing — The 
Grand Causeway — The Fort of Xoloc — The Emperor's reti- 
nue — Abject deference of his lords — Magnificent palanquin— 
His personal appearance and costume — The reception — Ex- 
change of presents — Montezuma retires — Cuitlahua escorts 
the Spaniards to their quarters — Their admiration on seeing 
the splendor of the city — Curiosity of the people — The 
omens of that day — Their influence upon Montezuma — Guati- 
mozin's true devotion to his country — His interview with the 
Princess — True interpretation of the omens — Filial devotion 
versus patriotism — The pledge — A new omen — The parrot 
turned prophet — Karee and her prediction — Extreme sensi- 
tiveness of the Princess. 



CHAPTER VI. 

MUNIFICENCE OF MONTEZUMA — THE ROYAL BANQUET — 

THE REQUITAL THE EMPEROR A PRISONER IN HIS OWN 

PALACE. - - - - - 97 

Grand military display by the Spaniard^r-The terror of the 



Vlll CONTENTS. 

Aztecs — Fearlessness and high purpose of Guatimozin and 
others — The Banquet — The company — A contrast — The 
strangers presented to the Queen — Her grace and dignity — 
Beauty of the Aztec women — Awkward position of the ad- 
miring Cavaliers- -Their ingenuity in pantomime — Readily 
matched by the Aztec — Sandoval and the Princess — Cortez 
and Karee — Guatimozin and Cacama in argument — The 
Princess interposes — Sternness of Guatimozin — An incident 
— Orteguilla — Alvarado and the Naiads — Metamorphosed into 
a flower-god — Pays homage to the Princess — The feast — 
The true character of the invaders — Bold movement of Cor- 
tez — Montezuma's blind submission to fate — Voluntarily 
becomes a vassal to the crown of Spain — A still bolder move- 
ment of Cortez — Montezuma remonstrates, but yields, and 
becomes a prisoner in the Spanish quarters — Indignation of 
the nobles — Portentous omen — Distress in the palace — The 
Princess expostulates with her father — The parting, and the 
promised meeting — Guatimozin departs in disgust — His inter- 
view with the Princess at Chapnltepec — Courageous hopes — 
Oracle and omens — Timidity made bold by love. 



CHAPTER VII. 

TREACHERY AND RETRIBUTION MASSACRE OF THE AZTEC 

NOBILITY DEATH OF MONTEZUMA. - 121 

Cortez visits Vera Cruz — Alvarado in command in the Capital — 
His character — The Aztec festival — Unprovoked attack and 
massacre — The whole nation in arms for revenge — Alvarado 
in imminent peril — Cortez returns — The Aztecs threaten the 
entire destruction of the Spaniards — Furious assault upon 
their quarters — Desperate sortie — Implacable spirit of the 
Aztecs — Their leaders — Cortez persuades Montezuma to 
interpose — Cacama summoned to the royal presence — His 
noble reply — The Princes' rendezvous — Guatimozin warned 
of danger — His escape — Cacama and Cuitlahua arrested — 
The latter released — Fresh assaults upon the Spaniards — At 



CONTENTS. IX 

the instigation of Cortez, Montezuma appears and addresses 
the people — Their loyalty and deference — Suddenly changed 
to uncontrollable rage — The Emperor mortally wounded by 
his own people — A temporary suspension of hostilities — Death 
of Montezuma — His funeral obsequies. 



CHAPTER VIII. 

BRIEF REIGN OF CUITLAHUA EXPULSION OF THE SPAN- 
IARDS GUATIMOZIN CHOSEN EMPEROR HIS MARRIAGE 

WITH TECUICHPO. - 137 

Cuitlahua elected to the vacant throne — His resolution — Cortez, 
realizing his danger, resolves to evacuate the city — Attempts 
to steal away in the night — Assaulted on all sides by the 
Aztecs — Perils of the retreat — Awful position on the Great 
Causeway — Hemmed in on all sides — Terrible slaughter — A 
remnant escape — Cortez in tears — Singular neglect of his 
adversary — Activity of Cuitlahua — His sudden death — Grief 
and despondency of the nation — Guatimozin elected to his 
place — His activity and prudence — He claims the hand pf 
the Princess — Her timidity and her devotion — Love finding 
the bright side of the picture — The nuptial festival — Grand 
procession to the Capital — A nation's welcome. 



CHAPTER IX. 

FESTIVITIES AT THE COURT OF GUATIMOZIN THE NEW 

HYMENEAL VOW. - - 151 

Character of Guatimozin — His practical wisdom and activity — 
Gaiety of the court — The young Queen — Nahuitla, the 
Prince of Tlacopan — Atlacan, a princess of Tezcuco — Her 
brother, Maxtli — Her suitors — The Merchant of Cholula — 
Mercenary views of Maxtli — Endeavors to thwart Nahuitla — ■ 
How he is thwarted himself— The betrothal — Sanctioned by 



CONTENTS. 



the Emperor — The nuptials — Polygamy abjured — A new 
Imperial statute — Torch dance — Significant pantomime. 



CHAPTER X. 

RETURN OF CORTEZ SIEGE OF TENOCHTITLAN BRAVERY 

AND SUFFERINGS OF THE AZTECS. - 161 

Guatimozin prepares for a new invasion — Cortez approaches with 
a new army — Orders vessels built atTlascala — Takes pos- 
session of Tezcuco — Makes liberal overtures to Guatimozin — 
Rejected with scorn — Determined spirit of Guatimozin — 
Success of Cortez in reducing some of the smaller towns — 
Narrow escape at Iztalapatan — General defection of the tri- 
butary cities — How acoounted for — The Spanish fleet on the 
Lake — Genius of Cortez — Tenochtitlan invested — Prepara- 
tions for the siege — Spirit of the Aztecs — Their supplies cut 
off — The Queen in her reverses — Famine — Distress in the 
city — Love stronger than hunger — The famishing fed — Des- 
peration — an assault — an ambush — The tide of battle suddenly 
turned — Perilous position and severe loss of the Spaniards — 
Cortez narrowly escapes — Disastrous retreat. 



CHAPTER XL 

STRAITNESS OF THE FAMINE — THE FINAL CONFLICT 

FLIGHT AND CAPTURE OF GUATIMOZIN DESTINY FUL- 
FILLED. --«-*- 179 

The Mexicans encouraged — Oracular declaration of the priests — 
It fails to be fulfilled — Cortez resolves to lay waste the city — 
A wide spread ruin — Terrible sufferings of the besieged — 
Love and loyalty outliving hope — Death preferred to submis- 
sion — Nahuitla proposes a plan of escape — Guatimozin re- 
jects it, but is overruled by the unanimous voice of his 
people — Prepares for flight — The battle of the ghosts — The 



CONTENTS. Xi 

retreat — Guatimoziu on the lake — Pursued by the enemy — 
A captive — Brought before Cortez — His noble spirit and 
bearing — The Queen and the conqueror — Her destiny fulfilled. 



THE FLIGHT OP THE KATAHBA CHIEF. i»s 



The dream of Minaree, the young bride of Ash-te-o-lah — Its effect 
upon the Chief — He goes to the chase — Power and pros- 
perity of the Katahbas — Beauty of their villages — The wig- 
wam of Ash-te-o-lah — The Chief in his canoe — The deer — 
The foe — The chase — He turns upon his pursuers — Slays 
seven of their number successively — Is taken — Marched off 
as a captive — His boldness and dignity- — Arrives in the territo- 
ries of his enemies — Insulted and beaten by the women — Con- 
demned to the fiery torture — Led out to execution — Breaks 
away and escapes — Pauses to defy his pursuers — Distances 
them all — Stops to rest — Finds a place of concealment — 
Plans the destruction of the pursuing party — Succeeds — 
Returns home in triumph, laden with trophies and spoils. 



A.AGE 



MONICA-THE ITEAN CAPTIVE. - 209 

Keverence for the dead — Indian burial — The journey to the Spirit 
land — The favorite dog killed — Food for journey — Memen- 
toes of the departed — The grave of an infant boy — The Itean 



XII CONTENTS. 

encampment — A sister's grief — Her dream — She visits the 
grave by moonlight — Her song — Enters a canoe and floats 
down the stream — A captive, devoted to the '* Great Star" — 
Pagan rite among the Pawnees — Preparing for the sacrifice — 
Ignorant of her fate — Gathering of the Pawnees to the festi- 
val — The victim led to the stake — The terrible orgies com- 
mence — Are suddenly interrupted — The captive unbound — 
The flight — Parting with her deliverer — Meets her friends — 
Reaches her home in safety — Petalesharro, her deliverer^ 
His person and character — Bloody rite abolished. 



THE HERMITESS OP ATHABASCA. - 227 



The wigwam of Kaf-na-wa-go — His family — Tula, his only 
daughter — O-ken-ah-ga, her husband — The Athapuscows 
steal in at night — The chiefs murdered — Tula a captive — Her 
infant boy murdered before her eyes — The Chippeways in 
pursuit of the murderers — Following the trail — The enemy 
overtaken — Retribution wreaked upon the innocent — The 
deep grief of Tula — Her weary marches — Her captors 
encamp — The tempest — She escapes in the darkness — Vain 
attempts to discover her retreat — Seeks to find her way back 
to her people— The forest — A midnight intruder — She climbs 
a tree — Is besieged — Assaulted — Repels and destroys the 
enemy — Intricacies and dangers of the forest — An opening, 
but no light — Bewildered — Resolves to go no farther — Finds 
a convenient spot — builds a cabin — her house-keeping — Her 
ingenuity, industry and taste — The Hermitess discovered — 
Her solitude reluctantly abandoned — Indian mode of obtaining 
a wife — Journeyings — A new party — An unexpected meeting. 



THE AZTEC PRINCESS, 



OR 



DESTINY FORESHADOWED 



Rapacious Spain 
Followed her "bold discoverer o'er the main ; 
A ra"bid race, fanatically "bold, 
And steeled to cruelty "by lust of gold, 
Traversed the 'waves, the unknown -world explored, 
The cross their standard, hut their path the sword ; 
Their steps were graves ; o'er prostrate realms they trod, 
They worshipped Mammon, while they vowed to God. 



THE AZTEC PRINCESS. 



CHAPTER I. 

BIRTH AND EARLY LIFE OF TECUICHPO. 

2Tell me, asmoest ti&ou fnfluence to t&e stars 1 

" Wo ! wo ! wo ! to the imperial House of Tenochtit- 
lan ! Never saw I the heavens in so inauspicious an 
aspect. Dark portentous influences appear on every 
side. May the horoscope of the infant daughter of 
Montezuma never be fulfilled." 

These were the awful words of the priestly astrolo- 
ger of Tenochtitlan, uttered with solemn and oracular 
emphasis from the lofty Teocalli, where he had been 
long and studiously watching the heavens, and calcu- 
lating the relative positions and combinations of the 
stars. A deep unutterable gloom seemed to pervade his 
soul. Several times he traversed the broad terrace, in 
a terrible agitation ; his splendid pontifical robes flow- 
ing loosely in the breeze, and his tall majestic figure 
relieved against the clear sky, like some colossal mov- 
ing statue, — and then, in tones of deeper grief than 



16 THE HOROSCOPE. 

before, finding no error in his calculations, reiterated 
his oracular curse — " Wo ! wo ! wo ! to the imperial 
House of Tenochtitlan ! M Casting down his instru- 
ments to the earth, and tearing his hair in the violence 
of his emotions, he prostrated himself on the altar, and 
poured forth a loud and earnest prayer to all his gods. 

"Is there no favoring omen in any quarter, vene- 
rable father?" inquired the agitated messenger from 
the palace, when the prayer was ended — " is there no 
one of those bright spheres above us, that will deign to 
smile on the destiny of the young princess ? " 

"It is full of mysterious, portentous contradictions," 
replied the astrologer. " Good and evil influences con- 
tend for the mastery. The evil prevail, but the good 
are not wholly extinguished. The life of the princess 
will be a life of sorrow, but there will be a peculiar 
brightness in its end. Yet the aspect of every sign in 
the heavens is wo, and only wo, to the imperial House 
of Montezuma." 

Faith in the revelations of astrology was a deeply 
rooted superstition with the Aztecs. It pervaded the 
whole structure of society, affecting the most intelligent 
and well-informed, as well as the humblest and most 
ignorant individual. In this case, the prophetic wail- 
ings of the priestly oracle rolled, like a long funereal 
knell, through the magnificent halls of the imperial 
palace, and fell upon the ear of the monarch, as if it had 
been a voice from the unseen world. Montezuma was 
reclining on a splendidly embroidered couch, in his pri- 
vate apartment, anxiously awaiting the response of the 
celestial oracle. He was magnificently arrayed in his 
royal robes of green, richly ornamented with variegated 



THE EMPEROR AND THE PALACE. 17 

feather-work, and elaborately inwrought with gold and 
silver. His sandals were of pure gold, with ties and 
anklets of gold and silver thread, curiously interwoven 
with a variegated cotton cord. On his head was a rich 
fillet of gold, with a beautiful plume bending gracefully 
over one side, casting a melancholy shade over his 
handsome but naturally pensive features. A few of the 
royal princes sat, in respectful silence, at the farther 
end of the chamber, waiting, with an anxiety almost 
equal to that of the monarch, the return of the royal 
messenger. 

The apartments of the emperor were richly hung 
with tapestry of ornamental feather-work, rivalling, in 
the brilliancy of its dyes, and the beautiful harmony of 
its arrangement, the celebrated Gobelin tapestry. The 
floor was a tesselated pavement of porphyry and other 
beautiful stones. Numerous torches, supported in mas- 
sive silver stands, delicately carved with fanciful figures 
of various kinds, blazed through the apartment, light- 
ing up, with an almost noonday brilliancy, the gorgeous 
folds of the plumed hangings, and filling the whole 
palace with the sweet breath of the odoriferous gums 
of which they were composed. 

The emperor leaned pensively on his hand, seem- 
ingly oppressed with some superstitious melancholy 
forebodings. Perhaps the shadow of that mysterious 
prophecy, which betokened the extinction of the Aztec 
dynasty, and the consequent ruin of his house, was 
passing athwart the troubled sky of his mind, veiling 
the always doubtful future in mists of tenfold dimness. 
Whatever it was that disturbed his royal serenity, his 
reverie was soon broken by the sound of an approach- 

2* 



18 SHADOWS OF DESTINY. 

ing footstep. For a moment, nothing was heard but the 
measured tread of the trembling messenger, pacing 
with unwilling step the long corridor, that led to the 
royal presence. With his head bowed upon his breast, 
his eyes fixed upon the pavement, his person veiled in 
the coarse nequen* and his feet bare, he stood before 
the monarch, dumb as a statue. 

" What response bring you," eagerly enquired the 
emperor, " from the burning oracles of heaven 1 How 
reads the destiny of my new-born infant ? " 

" The response be to the enemies of the great Monte- 
zuma," replied the messenger, without lifting his eyes 
from the floor, " and the destiny it foreshadows to the 
children of them that hate him." 

" Speak," exclaimed the monarch, " What message 
do you bring from the priest of the stars ?" 

" Alas ! my royal master, my message is full of wo — 
my heart faints, and my tongue refuses its office to 
give it utterance. The old prophet bade me say, that 
the celestial influences are all un propitious ; that the 
destiny of the infant princess is a life of sorrow, with a 
gleam of more than earthly brightness in its evening 
horizon. And then, prostrating himself upon the great 
altar, he groaned out one long, deep, heart-rending wail 
for the imperial House of Tenochtitlan, and the golden 
realm of Anahuac." 

A deeper shade came over the brow of Montezuma, 
and heaving a sigh from the very depths of a soul that 
had long been agitated by melancholy forebodings of 
coming evil, he raised his eyes to heaven, and said, 

* A mantle of coarse cotton fabric, which all who approached the empe- 
ror were compelled. to, pitt x>n, in tok^n of humility and reverence 



THE MONARCH AND HIS PEOPLE. 19 

"the will of the gods be done." Then, waving his 
hand to his attendants, they bowed their heads, and 
retired in silence from the apartment. 

" It has come at last," inwardly groaned the mo- 
narch, as soon as he found himself alone — " it has 
come at last — that fearful prophecy, that has so long 
hung, like the shadow of a great cloud, over my 
devoted house, is now to be fulfilled. The fates have 
willed it, and there is no escape from their dread 
decrees. I must make ready for the sacrifice." 

Nerved by the stern influence of this dark fatalism, 
Montezuma brushed a tear from his eye, and putting a 
royal restraint upon the turbulent sorrows and fears of 
his paternal heart, hastened to the apartments of the 
queen, to break to her, with all the gentleness and cau- 
tion which her delicate and precarious circumstances 
required, the mournful issue of their inquiries at the 
court of heaven, into the future destiny and prospects 
of their new-born babe. 

A deep gloom hung over the palace and the city. 
Every heart, even the most humble and unobserved, 
sympathized in the disappointment, and shared the dis- 
tress, of their sovereign. And the day, which should 
have been consecrated to loyal congratulations, and 
general festivities, became, as by common consent, a 
sort of national fast, a season of universal lamentation. 

The little stranger was welcomed into life with that 
peculiar chastened tenderness, which is the natural 
offspring of love and pity — love, such as infant inno- 
cence wins spontaneously from every heart — pity, such 
as melancholy forebodings of coming years of sorrow to 
one beloved, cannot fail to awaken. She was regarded 



20 THE INFANCY OF THE PRINCESS. 

as the most beautiful and the most interesting of all her 
race. Every look and motion seemed to have its pecu- 
liar significance in indicating the victim of a remark- 
able destiny. And it is not to be wondered at, that a 
superstition so sad, and an affection so tender and soli- 
citous, discovered an almost miraculous precocity in 
the first developments of the intellectual and moral 
qualities of its subject. She was the attractive centre 
of all the admiration and love of the royal household. 
Imagination fancied a peculiar sadness in her eye, and 
her merry laugh was supposed to mingle an element of 
sadness in its tones. Her mild and winning manners, 
and her affectionate disposition made her the idol of all 
whom she loved ; and each one strove to do her service, 
as if hoping to avert, in some measure, the coming doom 
of their darling; while she clung to the fond and 
devoted hearts around her, as the ivy clings to the oak, 
which receives its embraces, and is necessary to its 
support. 

When the young princess, who received the name of 
Tecuichpo, had arrived at the age of one year, she was 
given in charge to a young and beautiful slave, whom 
the Emperor had recently obtained from Azcapozalco. 
Karee was gifted with rare powers of minstrelsy. Her 
voice had the sweetness, power and compass of a 
mocking bird, and all day long she warbled her ever- 
changing lays, as if her natural breathing were music, 
and song the natural flow of her thoughts. She soon 
became passionately devoted to the little pet, and exerted 
all her uncommon gifts to amuse and instruct her. 
She taught her all the native songs of Azcapozalco 
and Mexitli, instructed her in dancing, embroidery and 



KAREE. 21 

feather-work, and initiated her into the science of 
picture-writing and the fanciful language of flowers. 
Karee and her royal charge were never apart. Gentle 
and timid as the dove, Tecuichpo clung to her new 
nurse, as to the bosom of a mother. Even in her early 
infancy, she would so sweetly respond, like an echo, 
to the gentle lullaby, and mingle her little notes so sym- 
phoniously with those of Karee, that it excited the 
wonder and admiration of all. Karee was passionately 
fond of flowers. It was indeed an element in the 
national taste of this remarkable people. But Karee 
was unusually gifted in her preceptions of natural 
beauty, and seemed to have a soul most delicately 
attuned to the spirit and language of flowers, the painted 
hieroglyphics of nature. She loved to exercise her 
exuberant fancy in decorating her little mistress, and 
often contrived so to arrange them upon the various 
parts of her person and dress, as to make her at different 
times, the emblematic representation of every bright and 
beautiful spirit, that was supposed to people their celes- 
tial paradise, or to hover, on wings of love and gentle 
care, about the path of those whom the gods delighted 
to favor. 

It was the daily custom for Karee to carry the young 
princess into the apartment of the Emperor, as soon as 
he rose from his siesta, to receive the affectionate 
caresses which her royal father was so fond of lavish- 
ing upon her. At such times, Tecuichpo would often 
take with her some rich chaplets of flowers which 
Karee had woven for her, and amuse herself and her 
father, by arranging them in a coronet on his brow, or 
twining them, in every fantastic form, about his person, 



22 RESCUE AND REWARD. 

to make, as she said, a flower- god of him, who was a 
sun to all the flowers of her earthly paradise. 

One day, when the young princess was sleeping in 
her little arbor, the ever watchful nurse observed a 
viper among the flowers, which she had strown about 
her pillow, just ready to dart its venomous fang into 
the bosom of her darling. Quick as lightning she 
seized the reptile in her hand, and, before he had time 
to turn upon her, flung him upon the floor, and crushed 
him under her sandalled heel. Passionately embracing 
her dear charge, she hastened with her to the apart- 
ments of the queen, and related the story of her narrow 
escape, with so much of the eloquence of gratitude for 
being the favored instrument of her deliverance from so 
cruel a death, that it deeply affected the heart of the 
queen. She embraced her child and Karee,.as if both 
were, for the moment, equally dear to her ; and then, in 
return for the faithful service, rendered at the hazard of 
her own life, she promised to bestow upon the slave 
whatever she chose to ask. " Give me, O give me 
freedom, and a chinampa, and I ask no more," was the 
eager reply of Karee to this unexpected offer of the 
queen. The request was immediately granted ; and 
the first sorrow that ever clouded the heart of the lovely 
Tecuichpo, was that of parting with her faithful and 
loving Karee. 

A chinampa was a floating island in the lake of 
Tezcuco, upon whose very bosom the imperial city was 
built. They were very numerous, and some of them 
were large, and extremely beautiful. They were 
formed by the alluvial deposit in the waters of the lake, 
and by occasional masses of earth detached from the 



THE CHI NAM PA- 23 

shores, held together by the fibrous roots, with which 
they were penetrated, and which in that luxurious 
clime, put out their feelers in every direction, and 
gathered to their embrace whatever of nutriment and 
support the richly impregnated waters afforded. In the 
process of a few years accumulation, the floating mass 
increased in length, breadth and thickness, till it 
became an island, capable of sustaining not only shrubs 
and trees, but sometimes a human habitation. Some 
of these were from two to three hundred feet square, 
and could be moved about at pleasure, like a raft, from 
city to city, along the borders of the lake. The natives, 
who were skilful gardeners, and passionately devoted 
to the cultivation of flowers, improved upon this 
beautiful hint of nature, to enlarge their means of sup- 
plying the capital with fruits, vegetables and flowers. 
Constructing small rafts of reeds, anchoring them out in 
the lake, and then covering them with the sediment 
drawn up from the bottom, they soon found them 
covered with a thrifty vegetation, and a vigorous soil, 
from which they were able to produce a large supply of 
the various luxuries of their highly favored clime. 

It was to one of these fairy gardens that the beautiful 
Karee retired, rich in the priceless jewel of freedom, 
and feeling that a chinampa all her own, and flowers 
to train and commune with, was the summit of human 
desire. Karee was no common character. Gifted by 
nature with unusual talents, she had, though in adverse 
circumstances, cultivated them by all the means in her 
power. Remarkably quick of perception, and shrewd 
and accurate of observation, with a memory that 
retained every thing that was committed to it, in its 



24 THE GENIUS AND FAITH OF KAREE. 

exact outlines and proportions, she was enabled -to 
gather materials for improvement from every scene 
through which she passed. Her imagination was 
exceedingly powerful and active, sometimes wild and 
terrific, but kept in balance by a sound judgment and a 
discriminating taste. Her love of flowers was a 
passion, a part of her nature. For her they had a lan- 
guage, if not a soul. And there was not one of all the 
endless varieties of that luxuriant clime, that had not a 
definite and emphatic place in the vocabulary of her 
fancy. The history of her life she could have written 
in her floral dialect, and to her, though its lines might 
have faded rapidly, its pages would have been always 
legible and eloquent. Her attachments were strong 
and enduring, and there was that element of heroism 
in her soul, that she would unhesitatingly have sacri- 
ficed life for the object of her love. 

It is not to be wondered at, that, with such qualities 
of mind and heart, Karee was deeply impressed with 
the solemn and imposing superstitions of the Aztec 
religion. The rites and ceremonies by which they 
were illustrated and sustained, were well calculated to 
stir to its very depths, a soul like hers, and give the 
fullest exercise to her wild imagination. That pomp- 
ous ritual, those terrible orgies, repeated before her eyes 
almost daily from her infancy, had become blended 
with the thoughts and associations of her mind, and in- 
timately related to every scene that interested her heart, 
or engaged her fancy. Yet her soul was not enslaved 
to that dark and dismal superstition. Though accus- 
tomed to an awful veneration of the priesthood, she did 
not regard them as a superior race of beings, or listen 



HER DEVOTION TO THE PRINCESS. 25 

to their words, as if they had been audible voices from 
heaven. Her spirit shrank from many of the darker 
revelations of the established mythology, and openly 
revolted from some -of its inhuman exactions. Its 
chains hung loosely upon her ; and she seemed fully 
prepared for the freedom of a purer and loftier faith. 
Her extreme beauty, her bewitching gaiety, and her 
varied talents, attracted many admirers, and some noble 
and worthy suitors. But Karee had another destiny to 
fulfil. She felt herself to be the guardian angel of the 
ill-fated Tecuichpo, and her love for the princess left no 
room for any other passion in her heart. She there- 
fore refused all solicitations, and remained the solitary 
mistress of her floating island. 

Karee's departure from the palace, did not in any 
degree lessen her interest in the welfare of the young 
princess. She was assiduous in her attention to every 
thing that could promote her happiness ; and seemed to 
value the flowers she cultivated on her chinampa 
chiefly as they afforded her the means of daily corres- 
pondence with Tecuichpo. She managed her island 
like a canoe, and moved about from one part of the 
beautiful lake to another, visiting by turns the cities that 
glittered on its margin, and sometimes traversing the 
valleys in search of new flowers, or exploring the 
ravines and caverns of the mountains for whatever of 
rare and precious she might chance to find. The 
chivalry of the Aztecs rendered such adventures per- 
fectly safe, their women being always regarded with the 
greatest tenderness and respect, and treated with a deli- 
cacy seldom surpassed in the most civilized countries of 

Christendom. 

3 



£6 CHIVALRY OF THE AZTECS. 

This chivalric sentiment was, not improbably height- 
ened, in the case of Karee, in part by her extreme beauty, 
and in part by the power of her genius and the bril- 
liancy of her wit. She commanded respect by the force 
of her intellect, and the purity of her heart ; while the 
uncommon depth and splendor of her imagination, when 
excited by any favorite theme, and the seemingly inex- 
haustible fruitfulness of her mental resources, invested 
her, in the view of the multitude, with something of the 
dignity, and much of the superstitious charm of a 
prophetess. 






CWPTEE II. 



YOUTH OF THE PRINCESS HER EARLY LOVE REVEALED 

PROPHETIC ANNOUNCEMENT AND SUDDEN ARRIVAL OF 
THE SPANIARDS. 

3Sreatf)e not fits noble name eben to t$e tofntrs, 
3Lest tijeg mg lobe vebeal. 



3J fmbe mnstfcal lore, 
0nts coming ebents cast t|)etv sijattotos oefote. 

The childhood of the fair princess passed away with- 
out any event of importance, except the occasional 
recurrence of those dark prophecies which oversha- 
dowed her entrance into life. Her father, who had 
exercised the office of priest before he came to the 
throne, was thoroughly imbued with the superstitious 
reverence for astrology, which formed a part of the 
religion of the Aztecs. To all the predictions of this 
mystic science he yielded implicit belief, regarding 
whatever it foreshadoAved as the fixed decrees of fate. 
He was, therefore, fully prepared, and always on the 
look-out, for new revelations to confirm and establish 
his faith. These were sometimes found in the trivial 
occurrences of every-day life, and sometimes in the 
sinister aspect of the heavenly bodies, at peculiar 






KAREE-O-THAN. 



epochs in the nfe;o;£,his daughter. With this supersti- 
tious foreboding of^Vil, the pensive character of the 
princess harmonized so well, as to afford, to the mind 
of the too credulous monarch, another unquestionable 
indication of her destiny. It seemed to be written on 
her brow, that her life was a doomed one ; and each 
returning year was counted a£*the last, and entered 
upon with gloomy forebodings of some terrible catas- 
trophe. 

As her life advanced, her charms, both of person and 
character matured and increased; and, at the age of 
fourteen, there was not a maiden in all the golden 
cities of Anahuac, who could compare with Tecuichpo. 
Her exceeding loveliness was the theme of many a 
song, and the fame of her beauty and her accomplish- 
ments was published in all the neighboring nations. 
While yet a child, her hand was eagerly sought by 
Cacamo, of the royal house of Tezcuco ; but, with the 
true chivalry of an unselfish devotion, his suit was 
withdrawn, on discovering that her young affections 
were already engaged to another. The discovery was 
made in a manner too singular and striking to be suf- 
fered to pass unnoticed. 

In the course of her wanderings in the forest, Karee 
had taken captive a beautiful parrot, of the most gor- 
geous plumage, and the most astonishing capacity. 
This chatterer, after due training and discipline, she 
had presented to her favorite princess, among a 
thousand other tokens of her unchangeable affection. 
Tecuichpo loved the beautiful mimic, to whom she 
gave the name of Karee- o-than — the voice of Karee, — 
and often amused herself with teaching her to repeat 



A SECRET REVEALED. 29 

the words which she loved best to hear. Without 
being aware of the publicity she was thus giving to her 
most treasured thoughts, she entrusted to the talkative 
bird the secret of her love, by associating with the most 
endearing epithets, the name of her favored cavalier. 
While strolling about the magnificent gardens attached 
to the palace of Montezuma, Cacamo was wont to 
breathe out, in impassioned song, his love for Tecuich- 
po, repeating her name, with every expression of 
passionate regard, which the language afforded. Ka- 
ree-o-than was often flying about in the gardens, and 
soliloquizing in the arbors, the favorite resorts of her 
beautiful mistress, and often attracted the notice of 
Cacamo. 

One evening, as the prince was more than usually 
eloquent in pouring into the ear of Zephyr the tale 
of his love, the mimic bird, nerched upon a flower- 
ing orange tree, that filled the garcren with its delicious 
perfume, repeated the name of his mistress, as often as 
her lover uttered it, occasionally connecting with it the 
name of Guatimozin, and then adding some endearing 
epithet, expressive of the most ardent admiration. The 
prince was first amused, and then vexed, at the fre- 
quent repetition of the name of his rival. In vain did 
he endeavor to induce the mischievous bird to substitute 
his own name for that of Guatimozin. As often as he 
uttered the name of the princess, the echo in the orange 
tree gave back " noble Guatimozin," or " sweet Guati- 
mozin," or some other similar response, which left no 
doubt on the mind of Cacamo, that the heart of his 
mistress was pre-occupied, and that the nephew of 
Montezuma was the favored object of her love. The 

3* 



30 GUATIMOZIN. 

next day, he bade adieu to Tenochtitlan, placed him- 
self at the head of the army of Tezcuco, and plunged 
into a war then raging with a distant tribe on the west, 
hoping to bury his disappointment in the exciting 
scenes of conquest. 

Guatimozin was of the royal blood, and, as his after 
history will show, of a right royal and heroic spirit. 
From his childhood, he had exhibited an unusual 
maturity of judgment, coupled with an energy, activity, 
and fearlessness of spirit, which gave early assurance 
of a heroism worthy of the supreme command, and an 
intellectual superiority that might claim succession to 
the throne. His training was in the court and the 
camp, and he seemed equally at home and in his ele- 
ment, amid the refined gaieties of the palace, the grave 
deliberations of the royal council, and the mad revelry 
of the battle-field. His figure was of the most perfect 
manly proportions, tall, commanding, graceful — his 
countenance was marked with that peculiar blending 
of benignity and majesty, which made it unspeakably 
beautiful and winning to those whom he loved, and 
terrible to those on whom he frowned. He was mild, 
humane, generous, confiding ; yet sternly and heroically 
just. His country was his idol. The one great pas- 
sion of his soul, to which all other thoughts and affec- 
tions were subordinate and tributary, was patriotism. 
On that altar, if he had possessed a thousand lives, he 
would freely have laid them all. Such was the noble 
prince who had won the heart of Tecuichpo. 

Meanwhile, to the anxious eye of her imperial father, 
the clouds of fate seemed to hang deep and dark over 
the realm of Anahuac. Long before the prophetic wail, 



THE ANCIENT LEGEND. 31 

which welcomed the lovely Tecuichpo to a life of sor- 
row, Montezuma had imbibed from the dark legends of 
ancient prophecies, and the faint outgivings of his own 
priestly oracles, a deep and ineradicable impression that 
some terrible calamity was impending over the realm, 
and that he was to be the last of its native monarchs. 
It was dimly foreshadowed, in these prophetic revela- 
tions, that the descendants of a noble and powerful race 
of men, who had many ages before occupied that 
beautiful region, and filled it with the works of their 
genius, but who had been driven out by the cruelty 
and perfidy of the Toltecs, would return, invested with 
supernatural power from heaven, to re-possess their 
ancient inheritance.* To this leading and long estab- 
lished faith, every dark and doubtful omen contributed 
its appropriate share of confirmation. To this, every 
significant event was deemed to have a more or less 
intimate relation. So that, at this particular epoch, not 
only the superstitious monarch, and his priestly astrolo- 
gers, but the whole nation of Azteca were prepared, as 
were the ancient Jews at the advent of the Messiah, for 
great events, though utterly unable to imagine what 
might be the nature of the expected change. 

These gloomy forebodings of coming evil so tho- 
roughly possessed the mind of Montezuma, that the 
commanding dignity and pride of the monarch gave 
way before the absorbing anxiety of the man and the 

* One version of this singular prophetic legend represented the expected 
invaders, as the descendants of the ancient god Quetzalcoatl, who, ages 
agone, had voluntarily abdicated the throne of Anahuac, and departed to a 
far country in the East, with a promise to his afflicted people, that his chil- 
dren would ultimately return, and claim their ancient country, and crown. 



32 THE YOUNG PYTHONESS. 

fatlier, and, in a manner, unfitted him for the duties of 
the lofty place he had so nobly filled. He yielded, as 
will be seen in the sequel, not without grief, but with- 
out resistance, to the fixed decrees of fate, and awaited 
the issue, as a victim for the heaven-appointed sacrifice. 
It was about fifteen years after the prophetic 
announcement of the doom of the young princess of the 
empire, that Montezuma was reclining in his summer 
saloon, where he had been gloomily brooding over his 
darkening prospects, till his soul was filled with sadness. 
His beautiful daughter- was with him, striving to cheer 
his heart with the always welcome music of her songs, 
and the affectionate expression of a love as pure and 
deep as ever warmed the heart of a devoted child. She 
had gone that day into the royal presence to ask a boon 
for her early and faithful friend, Karee. This lovely 
and gifted creature, now in the full maturity of all her 
wonderful powers of mind, and personal attractions, had 
often been admitted, as a special favorite, into the royal 
presence, to exhibit her remarkable powers of min- 
strelsy, and her almost supernatural gifts as an impro- 
visatrice of the wild melodies of Anahuac. Some of 
her chants were of rare pathos and sublimity, and some- 
times she was so carried away with the impassioned 
vehemence of her inspiration, that she seemed an 
inspired messenger from the skies, uttering in their lan- 
guage the oracles of the gods. On this occasion, she had 
requested permission to sing a new chant in the palace, 
that she might seize the opportunity to breathe a pro- 
phetic warning in the ear of the emperor. She had 
thrice dreamed that the dark cloud which had so long 
hung over that devoted land, had burst in an over- 



HER VISION. 33 

whelming storm, upon the capital, and buried Monte- 
zuma and all his house in indiscriminate ruin. She had 
seen the demon of destruction, in the guize of a snow 
white angel, clad in burnished silver, borne on a fiery 
animal, of great power, and fleet as the wind, having 
under him a small band of warriors, guarded and 
mounted like himself, armed with thunderbolts which 
they hurled at will against all who opposed their pro- 
gress. She had seen the monarch of Tenochtitlan, with 
his hosts of armed Mexicans, and the tributary armies 
of Tezcuco, Islacapan, Chalco, and all the cities of that 
glorious valley, tremble and cower before this small 
band of invaders, and yield himself without a blow to 
their hands. She had seen the thousands and tens of 
thousands of her beloved land fall before this handful 
of strangers, and melt away, like the mists of the morn- 
ing before the rising sun. And she had heard a voice 
from the dark cloud as it broke, saying, sternly, as the 
forked lightning leaped into the heart of the imperial 
palace, " The gods help only those who help them- 
selves." 

Filled and agitated with the stirring influence of this 
prophetic vision, Karee, who had always regarded her- 
self as the guardian genius of Tecuichpo, now imagined 
the sphere of her duty greatly enlarged, and deemed 
herself specially commissioned to save the empire from 
impending destruction. Weaving her vision, and the 
warning it uttered, into one of her most impassioned 
chants, and arraying herself as the priestess of nature, 
she followed Tecuichpo, with a firm step into the royal 
presence, and, with the boldness and eloquence of a 
prophetess, warned him of the coming danger, and 



34 WARNING AND APPEAL. 

urged him to arouse from his apathy, unbecoming the 
monarch of a proud and powerful nation, cast off the 
slavery of his superstitious fears, and prepare to meet, 
with the power of a man, and the wisdom of a king, 
whatever evil might come upon him. Rising with the 
kindling inspiration of her theme, she ventured gently 
to reproach the awe-struck monarch with his unmanly 
fears, and to remind him that on his single will, and the 
firmness of his soul, hung not only his own destiny hut 
that of wife and children; and more than that, of a 
whole nation, whose myriads of households looked up 
to him, as the common father of them all, the heaven- 
appointed guardian of their lives, liberty and happiness. 
At length, alarmed at her own energy and boldness, so 
unwonted even to the proudest noble of the realm, in 
that royal presence, she bent her knee, and baring her 
bosom, she lowered her voice almost to a whisper, and 
said imploringly — 

Strike, monarch ! strike, this heart is thine, 

To live or die for thee ; 
Strike, but heed this voice of mine 

It comes from heaven through me ; 
It comes to save this blessed land, 

It comes thy soul to free 
From those dark fears, and bid thee stand 
The monarch father of thy land, 

That only lives in thee. 

Strike, father ! if my words too bold 

Thy royal ears offend ; 
The visions of the night are told, 
Thy destiny the gods unfold — 

Oh ! be thy people's friend, 



THE VISION REALIZED. 35 

True to thyself, to them, to heaven — ■ 
So shall this lowering cloud be riven 

And light and peace descend, 
To bless this golden realm, and save 
Tecuichpo from an early grave. 

The vision of the beautiful pythoness had deeply and 
powerfully affected the soul of Montezuma ; and her 
closing appeal moved him even to tears. Though 
accustomed to the most obsequious deference from all 
his subjects, even from the proudest of his nobles, he 
had listened to every word of Karee with the profoundest 
attention and interest, as if it had been from the acknow- 
ledged oracle of heaven. When she ceased, there was 
a breathless silence in the hall. The monarch drew 
his lovely daughter to his bosom in a passionate 
embrace. Karee remained prostrate, with her face to 
the ground, her heart throbbing almost audibly with the 
violence of her emotions. Suddenly, a deep long blast 
from a distant trumpet announced the arrival of a 
courier at the capital. It was a signal for all the attend- 
ants to retire. Tecuichpo tenderly kissing her father, 
took Karee by the hand, raised her up and led her out, 
and the monarch was left alone. 

In a few moments, the courier arrived and entering, 
barefoot and veiled, into the royal presence, bowed to 
the very ground, handed a scroll to the king, and 
departed. When Montezuma had unrolled the scroll, 
he seemed for a moment, as if struck with instant paral- 
asis. Fear, astonishment, dismay, seized upon his 
soul. The vision of Karee was already fulfilled. The 
pictured tablet was the very counterpart of her oracular 
chant — the literal interpretation of her prophetic vision. 



36 THE PICTURED SCROLL. 

It announced the arrival within the realms of Monte- 
zuma, of a band of pale faced strangers, clad in bur- 
nished armor, each having at his command a beautiful 
animal of great power, hitherto unknown in that 
country, that bore him with the speed of the wind 
wherever he would go, and seemed, while he was 
mounted, to be a part of himself. It described their 
weapons, representing them as having the lightning and 
thunder at their disposal, which they caused to issue 
sometimes from dark heavy engines, which they 
dragged along the ground, and sometimes from smaller 
ones which they carried in their hands. It delineated, 
faithfully and skilfully their " water houses," or ships, 
in which they traversed the great waters, from a far dis- 
tant country. The peculiar costume and bearing of their 
commander, and of his chiefs, were also happily repre- 
sented in the rich coloring for which the Aztecs were 
distinguished. Nothing was omitted in their entire 
array, which could serve to convey to the eye of the 
emperor a correct and complete impression of the appear- 
ance, numbers and power of the strangers. It was all 
before him, at a glance, a living speaking picture, and 
told the story of the invasion as graphically and elo- 
quently, as if he had been himself a witness of their 
debarkation, and of their feats of horsemanship. It was 
all before him, a terrible living reality. The gods 
whom he worshipped had sent these strangers to fulfil 
their own irresistible purposes — if, indeed, these were 
not the gods themselves, in human form. 

The mind of Montezuma was overwhelmed. Like 
Belshazzar, when the divine hand appeared writing his 
doom on the wall, his soul fainted in him, his knees 



ANOTHER COURIER. 37 

smote together, and he sat, in blank astonishment, 
gazing on the picture before him, as if the very tablet 
possessed a supernatural power of destruction. 

Paralyzed with the influence of his long indulged 
fears so singularly and strikingly realized, the monarch 
sat alone, neither seeking comfort, nor asking counsel 
of any one, till the hour of the evening repast. The 
summons aroused him from his reverie ; but he regarded 
it not. He remained alone, in his own private apart- 
ments, during the whole night, fasting and sleepless, 
traversing the marble halls in an agony of agitation. 

With the first light of the morning, the shrill notes of 
the trumpet, reverberating along the shadowy slopes of 
the cordilleras, announced the approach of another 
courier from the camp of the strangers. It rung in the 
ears of the dejected monarch, like an alarum. He 
awoke at once from his stupor, and began to consider 
what was to be done. The warning of Karee rushed 
upon his recollection. Her bold and timely appeal 
struck him to the heart. He resolved to be once more 
the monarch, and the father of his people. Uttering an 
earnest prayer to all his gods, he awaited the arrival of 
the courier. 

Swift of foot as the mountain deer, the steps of the 
messenger were soon heard, measuring with solemn 
pace, the long corridor of the royal mansion, as one who 
felt that he was approaching the presence of majesty, 
and bearing a message pregnant with the most import- 
ant issues to the common weal. Bowing low, with that 
profouud reverence, which was rigorously exacted of all 
who approached the presence of Montezuma, he touched 
the ground with his right hand, and then, his eyes bent 

4 



38 THE ROYAL COUNCIL. 

to the earth ; delivered his pictured scroll, and retired. 
It was a courteous and complimentary message from the 
strangers he so much dreaded, requesting that they 
might be permitted to pay their respects to his imperial 
majesty, in his own capital. The quick-sighted mo- 
narch perceived at once that prudence and policy 
required that this interview should be prevented. 

A council of the wisest and most experienced of the 
Aztec nobles was immediately called. The opinions 
of the royal advisers were variously expressed, but all, 
with one accord, agreed that the request of the stran- 
gers could not be granted. Some counselled a bold and 
warlike message, commanding the intruders to depart 
instantly, on pain of the royal displeasure. Some 
recommended their forcible expulsion by the army of 
the empire. The more aged and experienced, who had 
learned how much easier it is to avoid, than to escape, a 
danger, proposed a more courteous and peaceable reply 
to the message of the strangers. They deemed it 
imworthy of a great and powerful monarch, to be 
angry, when the people of another nation visited his* 
territories, or requested permission to see his capital. 
To manifest, or feel any thing like fear, in such a case, 
would be a reproach alike upon his courage and his 
patriotism. So long, therefore, as the strangers con- 
ducted themselves peaceably, and with becoming defer- 
ence to the will of the emperor, and the laws of the 
realm, they should be treated civilly, and hospitably 
entertained. 

To this wise and prudent counsel, the monarch was 
already fully prepared to yield. It was strongly 
seconded by his superstitious reverence for the heaven- 



THE AZTEC EMBASSY. 39 

sent strangers, and his mortal dread of their superhu- 
man power. He, therefore, selected the noblest and 
wisest of his chiefs as ambassadors, to bear his mes- 
sage, which was kindly and courteously expressed ; at 
the same time conveying a firm but respectful refusal to 
admit the foreigners to an interview in the capital, or 
to extend to them the protection of the court, after a 
reasonable time had elapsed for their re-embarkation. 
This message was accompanied with a munificent royal 
present, consisting of the richest and most beautiful 
suits of apparel for the chief and all his men, with 
gorgeous capes and robes of feather-work, glittering 
with jewels — precious stones richly set in goldj and 
many magnificent ornaments of pure gold. 

At the head of this embassy were princes of high 
estate, and most noble bearing, commanding in person, 
and of great distinction, both at the court and in the 
camp. When they arrived near the encampment of 
the strangers, which was the spot where the city of 
Vera Cruz now stands, they sent a courier forward, 
to announce their approach, and prepare for their 
reception. 

The meeting of the parties was one of no little pomp 
and ceremony, for the courtly manners and chivalric 
bearing of the European cavaliers were scarcely superior, 
in impressiveness and effect, to the barbaric splendor, 
and graceful consciousness of power, which character- 
ized the flower of the Aztec nobility. The chief, 
advancing towards the invaders, bowed low to earth, 
touching the ground with his right hand, then raising 
it to his head, and presenting it to his guest, announced 
himself as the envoy and servant of the great Monte- 



40 THEIR MEETING WITH THE STRANGERS. 

zuma, sole monarch and master of all the realms of 
Anahuac ; and demanded the name of the stranger, the 
country from which he came, and the motives which 
induced him to trespass upon the sacred territories of 
his royal master, and to presume to ask an interview 
with the emperor, in his capital. The Castilian chief- 
tain, with a courteous and knightly bearing replied, 
that his name was Hernando Cortez — that he was one 
of the humblest of the servants of the great Charles, the 
mighty monarch of Spain, and sovereign ruler of the 
Indies, and that he had come, with his little band of 
followers, to pay his court to the great Montezuma, and 
to baftr to him the fraternal salutation of his master, 
which he could only deliver in person. 

The reply of the Mexican was dignified, courteous, 
and pointed, and left no hope to the Spaniard, that he 
would then be able to effect his purpose, of visiting in 
person the golden city. " If," said the prince, " your 
monarch had come himself to our shores, he might 
well demand a personal meeting with our lord, the 
emperor, but when he sends his servant to represent 
him, he surely cannot presume to do more than com- 
municate with the servants of the great Montezuma. 
If it were possible that another sun should visit yonder 
sky, he might look upon our sun, in his march, and 
move and shine in his presence. But the moon and 
the stars cannot shine when he is abroad. They can 
look upon each other only when he withdraws his 
light." 

The royal message having been delivered, the pre- 
sents which accompanied it were brought forward, and 
spread out upon mats, in front of the general's tent. 



MUIs 



NIFICENT PRESENTS. 41 

The Spaniards were struck with surprise and admira- 
tion at the fineness of the texture of the cloths, the 
richness of their dyes, the gorgeous coloring and tasteful 
arrangement of the feather-work, the masterly work- 
manship and exquisite finish of the jewelry, and, above 
all, the immense value, and magnificent size of the 
golden toys which were presented them. They con- 
ceived, at once, the most exalted ideas of the riches of 
the country, and the munificence and splendor of the 
monarch that ruled over it. Their avarice and cupidity 
were strongly excited, and more than one of the inferior 
officers, as well as their general, formed the immediate 
resolution, that, in despite of the imperial interdict, 
they would endeavor, either by diplomacy or by force, 
to win their way to the capital, which they supposed 
must of necessity be the grand depository of all the 
treasures in the empire. Their intentions were kept 
secret, even from each other, and, under cover of a spe- 
cious submission to the expressed will of the monarch, 
Cortez requested permission to delay his departure, till 
his men should be recruited, and his stores replenished 
for his long voyage. 

Meanwhile, taking advantage of this unauthorized 
reprieve, the artful and indefatigable Castilian con- 
trived to draw off from their unwilling and burdensome 
allegiance to Montezuma, the Totonacs, a considerable 
tribe, residing in that part of the country where he had 
effected his landing ; and so to impress them with a 
sense of his own power and the lenity of his govern- 
ment, as to bind them to him in a solemn treaty of alli- 
ance. He also sent an embassy to the Tlascalans, a 
nation that had long maintained its independence 

4* 



EtTEZ. 



42 BOLD ADVANCE OF COR 

against the ambitious encroachments of Mexico, and 
held Montezuma their natural and only foe. They 
were a brave and warlike people, and nearly as far 
advanced in the arts of civilization as their enemies. 
Their government was a kind of republic. Cortez, with 
magniloquent pretensions of invincible power, and inex- 
haustible resources, proposed to assist the Tlascalans in 
reducing the power of Mexico, and putting an end to 
the oppressions and exactions of Montezuma. For this 
purpose, he asked leave to pass through their country, 
on his march to the great capital. 

Distrusting the intentions of the strangers, and fear- 
ing that, instead of a disinterested friend and ally, they 
should find in them only a new enemy, whom, once 
admitted, they could never expel from their dominions, 
and whose yoke might be even harder to bear than 
that which the Aztec monarch had in vain attempted 
to fasten upon them — the proposed alliance of the 
Spaniards was rejected, with such bold and ample 
demonstrations of hostility, as left no room for doubt, 
that any attempt to force a passage through their terri- 
tories, would be fiercely and ably contested. 

Never daunted by obstacles, though somewhat per- 
plexed, the brave Cortez rushed forward, encountered 
the almost countless hosts of the Tlascalan army, and, 
after several severe and deadly contests, in which the 
skill and prowess of his handful of men, with their 
terrible horses and yet more terrible fire-arms, were 
nearly overpowered by the immense numbers, astonish- 
ing bravery, and comparative skill of the enemy, he 
succeeded in terrifying them into submission, and win- 
ning them to a treaty of alliance, offensive and defen- 



THE COMPEERS OF CORTEZ. 43 

sive, against the tyrant Montezuma, the common enemy 
of all the nations of Anahuac. By these singular and 
unparalleled successes, the little band of Castilian 
adventurers found themselves fortified, in the heart of 
the country, in close alliance with two powerful tribes, 
who swelled their army to ten times its original num- 
ber, besides supplying them liberally with all the pro- 
visions that were needed for themselves and horses. 

Never was adventure so rashly undertaken, or so 
boldly pushed, as this singular expedition of the 
Spanish cavaliers. And never, probably, were there 
associated, in one little band, so many of the master 
spirits of chivalry, the true material of a conquering 
army. The compeers of Cortez, who submitted to his 
authority, and acted in perfect harmony with him, as 
if they were but subordinate parts of himself, were 
each competent to command a host, and lead it on to 
certain victory. The impetuous, daring Alvarado, the 
cool, courageous, trusty * Sandoval, the high-spirited, 
chivalrous Olid, the rash, head-long, cruel Yelasquez 
de Leon, and others, worthy to be the comrades of 
these, and of Cortez — when have the ranks of the war- 
god assigned so many master spirits to one enterprize ? 
And the brave, the gifted, the indomitable Xicotencatl, 
the mountain chief of Tlascala, whom the Spaniards, 
with so much difficulty, first subdued and then won to 
their cause, as an ally — what a noble personification 
of the soul and spirit of heroism, realizing in personal 
bravery, martial skill and prowess, and in all the com- 
manding qualities of person and of character, which go 
to constitute the victorious warrior, the best pictures of 
the type-heroes of epic poetry and history. 



44 AZTECS — THEIR STRENGTH THEIR WEAKNESS. 

In all their previous discoveries in the New World, 
the progress of the Spaniards to victory was easy, and 
almost unresisted. The invaders of Mexico, however, 
found themselves suddenly introduced to a new people, 
and new scenes — to nations of warriors, to races intel- 
ligent, civilized, and competent to self-government and 
self-defence. And all the skill, courage, and energy of 
their ablest commanders, and their bravest men, would 
have availed them nothing in their herculean enter- 
prize, if they had not craftily and skillfully worked 
upon the jealousies and differences existing between 
the various tribes and nations of Anahuac, and foment- 
ed the long smothered discontents, and unwritten com- 
plaints of an over-taxed and sternly-governed people, 
into open and clamorous resistance to the despotic sway 
of Montezuma. It is curious and melancholy to 
observe, how eagerly they shook off* the golden yoke 
of their hereditary monarch, for the iron one of a new 
master, and exchanged their long-established servitude 
to their legitimate king and their pagan gods, for a 
more galling, hopeless, and wasting slavery to the cruel 
and rapacious invader, under the life-promising Sign 
of the Cross, the desecrated banner of the Prince of 
Peace. 



HAPTEN III. 



SUPERSTITIOUS FEAR AND VACILLATING POLICY OF 
MONTEZUMA. 

2Tf)e lanti to as ours— tf)ts jjlorfous lantr — 
SSTitf) all its toealtf) of toootrs anti streams— 

©ur toarrfors, strong m tjeart an"B Imnto, 
©ur Sautters, beautiful as trreams, 



^ntf tften toe l)earti tl)e omens sag, 
2Tfiat (£oTj jjati sent fits angels fort!) 
2To stoeep our ancient tribes atoag— 

While these events were transpiring in the ever 
moving camp of the victorious invaders, the imperial 
court of Tenochtitlan was agitated and distracted by the 
divided counsels and wavering policy of the supersti- 
tious, fear-stricken monarch, and his various advisers. 
At one time, deeply offended by their audacious disre- 
gard of his positive prohibitions, and roused to a sense 
of his duty as a king, by the prophetic warning of 
Karee, which never ceased to ring in his ears, Monte- 
zuma was almost persuaded to give in to the war-party, 
and send out an army that should overwhelm the 
strangers at a blow. But, before this noble purpose had 



46 TIMID POLICY OF MONTEZUMA. 

time to mature itself into action, all his superstitious 
fears would revive, and, without coming to any decision 
either to move or stand still, he would pause in timid 
inaction, till some new success had made the invaders 
more formidable than before, and invested their mission 
with something more of that preternatural sacredness, 
which alone had power to unman the monarch, and 
disarm his craving ambition. At each advance of the 
conquering Castilians, he realized the growing necessity 
of prompt and efficient measures of defence, while at 
the same time he felt a greater reluctance to contend 
with fate. The result was, that he only dallied with 
the foe, by continually sending new embassies, each, 
with larger and richer presents than the preceding, 
having no effect but to add fuel to their already burning 
thirst for gold, and strengthen their determination to 
accomplish their original purpose. 

These royal embassies were less and less firm and 
peremptory in their terms, until they assumed the tone 
of expostulation, and assigning various and often con- 
flicting reasons why the Spaniards should not pursue 
their route any farther towards the imperial city. At 
length, when the courier announced the arrival of the 
mysterious band at Tlascala, and the consummation of 
the alliance between them and his old and bitter 
enemies, together with the defection of many cities and 
districts, he felt it impossible to remain any longer 
undecided. His throne trembled under him. He must 
act, or it would fall, and involve him and his house in 
inevitable ruin. Instead, however, of a bold and 
masterly activity in the defence of his capital and 
crown, he changed his policy altogether, and sending a 



Montezuma's secret designs. 47 

new embassy with more splendid gifts than ever, 
invited the strangers to his court, and promised them all 
the hospitalities of his empire. He designated the route 
they should pursue, and gave orders for their reception 
in all the towns and cities through which they should 
pass. 

Montezuma was politic and wise in some things ; and 
the purpose he had now in view, if it had not been 
frustrated, would have been deemed a master-stroke of 
policy, worthy of the ablest disciples of the Macchia- 
vellian school. Perceiving the necessity of breaking 
up this combination of new and old enemies, he had 
recourse to stratagem to effect it, intending that the 
strangers, whom he dared not to oppose with direct 
violence, should fall into the snare they had laid for 
themselves, in thrusting themselves forward, in despite 
of his repeated remonstrances, into the heart of his 
empire. He feared to raise his own hand to destroy 
them, because they were, in his view, commissioned of 
heaven to overturn his throne ; but he deemed it per- 
fectly consistent with this reverence for the decrees of 
fate, to lay a snare into which they should fall, and so 
destroy themselves. He little understood the watchful- 
ness and circumspection of the man he had to deal 
with, or the tremendous advantage which their armor 
of proof and their engines of destruction gave the 
Europeans over the almost naked Mexicans, with their 
primitive weapons of offence. It was his plan to sepa- 
rate the foreigners from their new Indian allies, and invite 
them to come alone to the capital, as was first proposed. 
And he designed to assign them accommodations in one 
of the ancient palaces, in the heart of the city, where } 



48 HE INFLAMES THE CUPIDITY OF CORTEZ. 

surrounded by high walls, on every side, they should 
be shut up from all intercourse with the people, and left 
to perish of famine. 

When this purpose was formed, the monarch kept it 
a profound secret in his own breast. The ambassadors 
whom he sent to the Castilian camp, were of the highest 
ranks of the nobility, and were accompanied by a long 
train of slaves, bearing the rich presents, by which the 
wily monarch hoped at the same time to display his 
own royal munificence, and to propitiate the favor of the 
dreaded strangers. Every new display of this kind 
only served more effectually to defeat his own hopes ; 
for the avarice of the Spaniards, whose lust of gold was 
absolutely insatiable, was so far from being satisfied 
with this profusion of royal gifts, that it was only the 
more inflamed with every new accession to their 
treasures. The only effect, therefore, of these repeated 
embassies was to confirm the Spaniards in their con- 
victions of the conscious weakness of the Mexicans, and 
make them the more resolute in pushing forward to 
complete the subjugation of the whole country, and 
possess themselves of all its seemingly inexhaustible 
treasures of gold. 

Montezuma had now another difficulty to contend 
with, in his endeavor to rid himself of the intruders. 
The Tlascalans represented him to Cortez as false and 
deceitful as he was ambitious and rapacious, and used 
every argument in their power to dissuade him from 
committing himself to his hands. But the bold adven- 
turer, always confident in his own resources, seemed 
never to think of danger when an object was to be 
accomplished, or to regard any thing as impossible 



WAVERING COUNSELS — SCENE IN THE GARDEN. 49 

which he desired to attain. As soon as the door was 
thrown open to his amicable approach to the capital, he 
set himself to prepare for the march. The expostulations 
and suspicions of the Tlascalans made him, perhaps, 
more careful in his preparations against a surprise, and 
more rigorous in the discipline of his little corps, than 
he might otherwise have been. Wherever he was, his 
camp was as cautiously posted, as fully and rigidly 
guarded as if. on the eve of battle, he was hourly 
expecting an assault. This watchfulness was main- 
tained throughout the whole adventurous campaign, as 
well when in the midst of friends and allies, as when 
surrounded by hostile legions. 

After the royal ambassadors had departed with their 
pacific message, the mind of Montezuma was harassed 
and agitated with many doubts of the propriety of the 
course he had adopted. His nobles, and the tributary 
princes of the neighboring cities of Tezcuco, Tlacopan, 
and Iztapalapan, were divided in their opinions. Some 
complained, though not loudly, of the weak and vacil- 
lating policy of the king. Some, even of the common 
people, feared the consequences, anticipating the most 
disastrous results, in accordance with their superstitious 
veneration for the oracles of their faith. The third day 
after the departure of the envoys, the king was pacing 
up and down one of the beautifully shaded walks of the 
royal gardens, listening with a disturbed mind to the 
powerful expostulations of his brother, Cuitlahua, who, 
from the beginning, had vehemently opposed every 
concession to the invaders, and urgently solicited per- 
mission to lead the army against them, and drive them 
from the land. Suddenly, a voice as of a distant choir 

5 



50 THE MYSTERIOUS CHANT. 

of chanters arrested his ear. The melody was solemn, 
sweet and soothing. It seemed to come sometimes 
from the upper regions of the air, in tones of silvery- 
clearness and power, sometimes from beneath, in sup- 
pressed and muffled harmony, as when the swell organ 
soliloquises with all its valves closed, — sometimes it 
retreated, as if dying into an echo along the distant 
avenues of royal palms and aged cypresses, or the 
citron and orange groves that skirted the farther end of 
the garden, and then, suddenly, and with great power, 
it burst in the full tide of impassioned song, from every 
tree and bower in that vast paradise of terrestial sweets. 
Enchanted by the more than Circean melody, the 
brothers paused in their animated discourse, and stood, 
for a few moments, in silent wonder and fixed attention. 
Presently the chanting ceased, and one solitary voice 
broke forth in plaintive but emphatic recitative as from 
the midst of the sparkling jet that played its ceaseless 
tune in the grand porphyritic basin near which they 
stood. The words, which were simple and oracular, 
struck deep into the heart of Montezuma, and found a 
ready response in that of his royal brother. 

The lion* walks forth in his power and pride, 
The terror and lord of the forest wide — 
When the fox appears, shall he flee and hide ? 



The eagle's nest is strong and high, 
Unquestioned monarch of the sky — 
Should he quail before the falcon's eye ? 

* As Americus Vespucius, in his letter to Lorenzo Di Pier-Francesco De 
Medici, reports having met with the lion in South America, I have taken 
the liberty to introduce him as a native in our forests, notwithstanding the 
prevalent opinion of naturalists to the contrary. 



THE WARNING. 51 

The sun rides forth through the heavens afar, 
Dispensing light from his flaming car — 
Should he veil his glory, or turn him back, 
"When tlmmeteor flashes athwart his track. ? 

Shall the eagle invite the hawk to his nest ?' 
Shajl the fox with the lion sit down as a guest ? 
Shall the meteor look out from the noonday sky, 
When the sun in his power is flaming by ? 

The pauses in this significant chant were followed 
by choral symphonies, expressing, as eloquently as 
inarticulate sounds could do, the most earnest remon- 
strance, the most moving expostulation. When this 
was concluded, the same sweet voice broke forth again, 
in tones of solemn tenderness and majestic power, in a 
prophetic warning to Montezuma. 

Beware, mighty monarch! beware of the hour, 
When the pale-faced intruder shall come to this bower ! 
Beware of the weakness that whispers of fear, 
When the all-grasping, gold-seeking Spaniard is near! 
Beware how thou readest the dark scroll of fate J 
Its mystic revealings may warn thee too late, 
That the power to command, and the strength to oppose, 
Are gone, when thou openest the gate to thy foes. 
The white men are mortal — frail sons of the earth, 
They know n °U they claim not, a heavenly birth; 
They bow to disease, and they fall by the sword, 
Pale fear can disarm them, grim death is their lord ; 
And those terrible coursers, so fiery and strong, 
That bear them like ravenous tigers along, 
The fleet winged arrow shall pierce them, and slay, 
And leave them to eagles and vultures a prey. 

Up, monarch ! arouse thee — the hour is at hand 
When the dark howling tempest shall sweep o'er thy land. 



52 THE MONARCH ROUSED. 

Thy doubts and thy fears, ever changing, are rife 

With peril to liberty, honor and life ; 

And this timid inaction shall surely bring down 

To the dust, in dishonor, thy glorious cro^n ; 

And leave, to all time, on thy once-honored head, 

The curse of a nation forsaken, betrayed. 

Oh ! rouse thee, brave monarch! there's power in thy hand 

To scatter the clouds that hang over thy land. 

Speak, speak but the word, there is magic in thee, 

Before which the ruthless invader shall flee, 

And myriads of braves, all equipped for defence, 

Shall leap at thy bidding, and banish him hence ; 

And the gods, who would frown on the recreant slave, 

Will stand by their altars, and fight for the brave. 

The effect of this mysterious warning upon the mind 
of Montezuma was exceedingly powerful, and seemed, 
for a time, to change his purpose and fix his resolution. 
With an energy and decision to which he had long 
been a stranger, he turned to his brother, and said, 
" Cuitlahua, you are right. This realm is mine. The 
gods have made me the father of this people. I must 
and will defend them. The strangers shall be driven 
back, or die. They shall never profane the temples 
and altars of Tenochtitlan, by entering within its gates, 
or looking upon its walls. Go, marsh all your host, and 
prepare to meet them, before they advance a step 
farther." 

Exulting in this sudden demonstration of his ancient 
martial spirit in his royal brother, and fired with a 
double zeal in the cause he had so much at heart, by 
the thrilling influence upon his soul of the mysterious 
oracle, whose message had been uttered in his hearing, 
Cuitlahua scarcely waited for the ordinary courtesy of 



THE ARMY IN MOTIOjST CUITLAHUA. 53 

bidding farewell to the king, but flew with the speed 
of the wind, to execute the grateful trust committed to 
him. Despatching his messengers in every direction, 
only a few hours elapsed before his army was drawn 
up in the great square of the city ; and, ere the sun had 
gone down, they had passed the gates, traversed the 
grand causeway that linked the amphibious city with 
the main land, and pitched their camp in a favorable 
position, several leagues on the way to Cholula. 

The ardent imagination of the prince of Iztapalapan 
kindled at the prospect now opened before. The 
clouds, so long hanging over his beloved country, were 
dissipated as by magic, and the clear light of heaven 
streamed in upon his path, promising a quick and easy 
conquest, a glorious triumph, and a permanent peace. 
He had been in many battles, but had never been 
defeated. He believed the Mexican army invincible 
any where, but especially on their own soil, and fight- 
ing for their altars and their hearths. Terrible as the 
invading strangers had been hitherto, he had no fear 
of the coming encounter. He confidently expected to 
annihilate them at a blow. Happily his soldiers were 
all animated with the same spirit, and they took to 
their rest that night, eager for the morning to come, 
that should light them on their way to a certain and 
glorious victory. 

No sooner had the army departed, than a change 
came over the spirit of the ill-fated Montezuma. The 
demons of doubt and fear returned to perplex and harrass 
his soul, and to incline him again to that vacillating 
policy, those half way measures, by which his doom 
was to be sealed. In an agony of distrust and suspense, 

5* 



54 THE HIGH RESOLVE ABANDONED. 

he recounted to himself the history of the past, review- 
ing all those dark and fearful prophecies, those oft- 
repeated and mysteriously significant omens, which, 
for so many years, had foreshadowed the events of the 
present day, and revealed the inevitable doom of the 
empire, sealed with the signet of heaven. The impres- 
sions produced by the recent warnings of Karee faded 
and disappeared before the deep and indelible traces of 
those ancient oracles, on which he had been accus- 
tomed from his youth sacredly to rely. He was once 
more adrift in a tempest of contending impulses, at one 
moment abandoning all in a paroxism of despair, at 
another, vainly flattering himself with the hope of 
deliverance in some ill-formed stratagem, but never 
nerving himself to a tone of resolute defiance, or ven- 
turing to rest a hope on the issue of an open encounter. 
The result of all this agitation was, another aban- 
donment of his noble purpose of defence, and a new 
resort to stratagem. But the plan of operations, and 
the scene of execution, were changed. Cholula was 
selected as the theatre of destruction. The Spaniards 
had already been invited to take that city in their route, 
and orders had been given, and preparations made, for 
their hospitable reception. It was now resolved to 
make their acceptance of that invitation the signal and 
seal of their destruction. They were to be drawn into 
the city, alone, under the pretence that the presence of 
their Tlascalan allies, who were the ancient and bitter 
enemies of the Cholulans, would be likely to create dis- 
turbance in the city, and lead to collision if not to 
bloodshed. The Cholulans were instructed to provide 
them with a place of encampment, in the heart of their 



THE STRATAGEM. 55 

city, where they could easily be surrounded, and cut to 
pieces. The streets of the city were then to be broken 
up by deep pits in some places, and barricades in 
others, to impede the movements of the horses, more 
dreaded than even the thunder and lightning of their 
riders. This being completed under cover of the 
night, the city was to be filled with soldiers ready to do 
the work of execution, while the brave Cuitlahua, with 
the flower of the army of Tenochtitlan, was to encamp 
at a convenient distance without the walls, to render 
prompt assistance, in case it should be needed. 

This plan being fully arranged in the mind of the 
Emperor, messengers were despatched with the light of 
the morning, to arrest the movements of Cuitlahua, and 
convey the necessary orders to the governor of Cholula. 
The warlike chieftain was deeply chagrined, and bit- 
terly disappointed, in finding his orders so suddenly 
countermanded. He saw only certain ruin in the ever- 
wavering policy of the king, and was unable to con- 
ceive of any hope, except in striking a bold and decisive 
blow. He was willing to stake all upon a single cast, 
and drive back the insolent invader, or perish in the 
attempt But Montezuma was the absolute monarch. 
His word was law; and, though not irreversible like 
that of the Medo-Persian, it was never to be questioned 
by any of his subjects. The hero must therefore rest 
on his arms, and await the issue of a doubtful stratagem. 

Meanwhile, the eager and self sufficient Castilians 
had pushed forward to Cholula, and entered its gates, 
under a royal escort, that came out to meet them, and 
amid the constrained shouts and half hearted congratu- 
lations of a countless multitude of natives, who with 



56 CORTEZ ENTERS CHOLULA. 

mingled fear, hatred and curiosity, gazed on the con- 
querors as a superior race of beings, and made way for 
them on every side, to take possession of their city. 
They were received with the greatest deference and 
consideration by the chiefs of the little republic, and 
the ambassadors of Montezuma, who had halted on 
their way, to prepare a more honorable reception for 
their guests, and further to ingratiate them with their 
master, by doing away, as far they could, the unfavor- 
able impressions of him and his people, which might 
have made on their minds, by their intercourse with 
their old and implacable enemies of the republic of 
Tlascala* 

Such was the mutual jealousy and hatred of these 
neighboring nations, that, while the Cholulans could ? 
in no wise agree to admit the Tlascalans to accompany 
Cortez into their city, they, on their part, were ex- 
tremely reluctant to allow him to go in alone, assuring 
him in the strongest terms, that they were the most 
treacherous and deceitful of men, and their promises 
and professions utterly unworthy of confidence. Scorn- 
ing danger, however, and determined at all hazards, to 
embrace every opening that seemed to facilitate his 
approach to the Mexican capital, he marched fearlessly 
in, and took up his quarters in the great square, or 
market place. Here s ample accommodations were pro- 
vided for him and his band. Every courtesy was 
extended to them by the citizens and their rulers. 
Their table was amply supplied with ail the necessaries 
and luxuries of the place. They were regarded with a 
kind of superstitious awe by the multitude, as a race of 
beings belonging to another world 3 of ethereal mouldy 



TREACHERY APPREHENDED. 57 

and supernatural powers ; and their camp was visited 
by those of all ranks, and all ages, eager to catch a 
view of the terrible strangers. 

A few days after their arrival, a new embassy from 
the imperial palace was announced. They held no 
communication with Cortez, but had a long consulta- 
tion with the previous envoys still remaining there, and 
with the authorities of the city. From this time, there 
was a striking change in the aspect of the Cholulans 
towards their guests. They were soon made to per- 
ceive and feel that, though invited, they were not 
welcome guests. The daily supplies for their table 
were greatly diminished. They received but few and 
formal visits from the chiefs, and but cold attention 
from any of the nobles. Cortez was quick to perceive 
the change, but unable to divine its meaning. It 
caused him many an anxious hour, especially when he 
remembered the serious and urgent representations of 
his Tlascalan allies of the deceitful and treacherous 
character of the Cholulans. His apprehensions were by 
no means diminished, when he learned from the morn- 
ing report of the night guards, that through the entire 
night, which had hitherto been a season of perfect 
silence and repose in the city, sounds were heard on 
every side, as of people earnestly engaged in some 
works of fortification, sometimes digging in the earth, 
sometimes laying up stones in heaps, and in various 
other ways, " vexing the dull ear of night with uncouth 
noise." It was found, on examination, that the streets 
in many places were barricaded, and holes, in others, 
were lightly covered with branches of trees. Unable 
to explain these matters, and not wishing to give offence 



58 SUSPICIONS CONFIRMED. 

to his entertainers by enquiring too curiously into what 
might be no more than the ordinary preparation for a 
national festival, he sent one of his chief officers to 
report to the Tlascalan commander, without the gates 
of the city, and enquire what might be the meaning of 
these singular movements. Having learned in reply, 
that a hostile attack was undoubtedly contemplated, 
and that a large force of Mexicans, under command of 
the brave Cuitlahua, brother of Montezuma, was en- 
camped at no great distance, ready to co-operate with 
the Cholulans at a moment's warning, and that a great 
number of victims had been offered in sacrifice, to pro- 
pitiate the favor of their gods, the haughty Spaniard 
found his position anything but agreeable. He was a 
stranger to fear, but he was certainly most sadly per- 
plexed. And, when, in addition to the information 
already received, he learned from Marina, his female 
interpreter, that she had been warned by a friend in the 
city to abandon the Spaniards, that she might not be 
involved in their ruin, he was, for a time, quite at a 
loss what to do. To retreat, would be to manifest fear, 
and a distrust of his own resources, which might be 
fatal to his future influence with the natives. To 
remain where he was— inactive, would be to stand still 
in the yawning crater of a volcano, when the over- 
charged cauldron below had already begun to belch 
forth sulphureous flames and smoke. 

The character of the conqueror was one precisely 
adapted to such exigencies as this. Through the 
whole course of his wonderful career, he seems to have 
rushed into difficulty, for the mere pleasure of fighting 
his way out. In order to extricate himself, he never 



BOLD BEARING OF CORTEZ. 59 

lost a moment in parleying or diplomacy. His mea- 
sures were bold, decided, and direct, indicating a self- 
reliance, and a confidence in his men and means, 
which is the surest guaranty of success. In this case, 
having satisfied himself of the actual existence of a 
conspiracy, he sent for trie chief rulers, upbraided them 
with their want of hospitality, informed them that he 
should leave the place at break of day the next morn- 
ing, and demanded a large number of men, to assist in 
removing his baggage. Promising to comply with this 
demand, which favored the execution of their own 
designs, the chiefs departed, and Cortez and his band, 
sleeping on their arms, prepared for the coming 
conflict 

Punctually, at the peep of dawn, the princes of Cho- 
lula marched into the court, accompanied by a much 
larger number of men than Cortez had required. With 
a calm bold air, the haughty Castilian confronted them, 
charging them with treachery, and detailing all the cir- 
cumstances of the concerted massacre. He upbraided 
them with their duplicity and baseness, and gave them 
to understand that they should pay dear for their false- 
hearted and cruel designs against those, who, confiding 
in their hospitality and promises of friendship, had 
come to their city, and slept quietly within their gates. 

Thunderstruck at this unexpected turn of affairs, 
and fearing more than ever the strange beings, who 
could read their very thoughts, and fathom the designs 
which were yet scarcely matured in their own bosoms, 
the disconcerted magnates tremblingly pleaded guilty 
to the charge, and attempted to excuse themselves, by 
urging their allegiance to Montezuma, and the duty 



GO THE CHOLULANS SURPRISED. 

and necessity of obeying his commands, however 
repugnant to their own feelings. 

It was not the policy of Cortez to admit this plea, in 
extenuation of their treachery. He preferred to cast 
the whole burden upon them alone, and leave the way 
open for an easy disclaimer on the part of the emperor, 
hoping thereby the more readily to gain a peaceable 
entry into the capital. Without waiting, therefore, for 
any further explanations, or instituting any inquiry 
into the comparative guilt of the parties, he gave the 
signal to his soldiers, who, with a general discharge of 
their artillery and fire arms, rushed upon the unpre- 
pared multitude, mowing them down like grass, and 
trampling them under the hoofs of their horses. A 
general massacre ensued. Not one of the chiefs 
escaped, and only so many of their panic-struck follow- 
ers, as could feign themselves dead, or bury themselves, 
till the tempest was past, under the heaps of their slain 
comrades. 

Thus taken by surprise, and driven, before they 
were ready, into an unequal conflict with enemies who 
had, by some miracle, as they supposed, anticipated 
their movements, and struck the first blow, the Cholu- 
lans rushed in from all parts of their city, hoping to 
retrieve, by their numbers and prowess, the disadvan- 
tage of the lost onset. Cortez had prepared for this. 
He had ordered his artillery to be stationed at the main 
entrances to the square, where they poured in a raking 
fire upon the assailants, rushing in from all the ave- 
nues. The surprise being so sudden, and the leaders 
having been shot down at the first charge, confusion 
and consternation prevailed among the discomfitted 



TERRIBLE MASSACRE. 61 

Cholulans, who alternately fled, like affrighted sheep, 
from the scene of slaughter, and then rushed hack, like 
exasperated wolves, to the work of death. 

la anticipation of this conflict, the Spanish general 
had concerted a signal with his Tlascalan allies, with- 
out the gates, who now came rushing in, like hungry 
tigers, revelling in the opportunity to inflict a terrible 
vengeance upon their ancient enemies. Falling upon 
their rear, as they crowded in from the remoter quarters 
of the city towards the field of carnage, they drove 
them in upon the weapons of the Spaniards, from 
which there was now no escape. Turning upon this 
new enemy, they fought with desperate bravery, to win 
a retreat. But they were cut down on this side ahd that, 
till the streets were scarcely passable for the heaps of 
the dead and dying that cumbered them. Those who 
took refuge in their houses and temples, found no 
safety in such retreats, for they were instantly fired 
by the Tlascalans, and their defenders perished miser- 
ably in the flames. 

There was one scene in the midst of this desolating 
conflict, that was truly sublime, — one of those strange 
combinations of moral and physical grandeur, which 
sometimes occur in the dark annals of human warfare, 
investing with a kind of hallowed interest, which the 
lapse of ages serves only to soften, but never destroys, 
those spectacles of savage but heroic cruelty, where 
every death is elevated into a martyrdom, and the very 
ground saturated with human blood becomes a conse- 
crated field, clothed with laurels of never-fading green. 
It was the last act in that bloody drama, enacted on the 
lofty summit of the great Teocalli, the principal temple 

6 



62 THE GREAT TEOCALLI TAKEN. 

of Cholula, and the centre of attraction to all the vota- 
ries of the Aztec religion, throughout the wide realms 
of Anahuac. Driven from street to street, and from 
quarter to quarter, and falling back, as a forlorn hope, 
upon the sanctuary, and the support and encourage- 
ment of the hoary men, who presided over the myste- 
ries of their faith, they made a bold and desperate 
stand, in defence of all that was dear and holy in their 
homes and their altars. Step by step, they contested 
this hallowed ground, till they reached the upper ter- 
race, where the great temple stood. This was an 
area of four hundred feet square, at an elevation of 
two hundred feet from the level of the surrounding 
streets. On this elevated platform, the furious combat- 
ants fought hand to hand ; the priest, in his sacred 
garments, mingling in the savage conflict with the 
humblest of his followers — the steel-clad Castilian, the 
Tlascalan and the Cholulan, of every rank and grade, 
each eager only to slay his man, grappled in the mortal 
conflict, till one or the other fell in the death struggle, 
or tumbled over the side of the mound, to be dashed in 
pieces below. As the half-armed, half-naked natives 
melted away before the heavy and destructive weapons 
of the invulnerable Spaniards, they were repeatedly 
offered quarter, but scorned to accept it. One only sub- 
mitted, when, pierced with countless wounds, he could 
stand no longer. All the rest, to a man, fought despe- 
rately till he fell, and many, even then, in the agonies 
of the last struggle, seized their antagonists by the legs, 
and rolled with them over the parapet, to the certain 
death of both. 

At length the conflict ceased for want of a victim, 



PAINFUL POSITION OF CUITLAHUA. 63 

and the conquering Castilian, with a few of his Tlas- 
calan allies, stood alone, in undisputed possession of 
this lofty vantage ground. The disheartened Cholulans, 
without leaders, without counsellors, seeing their sacred 
temple in the hands of their enemies, felt that all was 
lost. Not another blow was struck, but every where 
they bowed in submission to the irresistible conqueror. 

The thunder of the artillery, and the smoke of the 
burning buildings, rising in a heavy column to the 
skies, announced to the Mexican army the conflict that 
was raging within the city. But, having orders not to 
engage in the fray, unless notified by the Cholulan 
chiefs that his assistance was necessary, the brave 
Cuitlahua was compelled to wait the summons. Burn- 
ing to vindicate the honor of the Mexican arms, the 
hero chafed under this cruel restraint, like a tiger 
chained in full view of his prey. He little doubted that 
the Castilians would fall by the hands of the Cholulans, 
encompassed as they were on every side, with no room 
for escape, or for the action of their horses. But he 
longed to have a share in the victory. Drawing up his 
forces in the order of march, he stood, the whole day, 
in readiness to move at a moment's warning ; and in 
this attitude, he was still standing, when the tidings of 
the terrible disaster in the city reached him. 

His veteran legions were with difficulty restrained 
from rushing to the rescue. The army was almost in 
a state of mutiny, from their eagerness to avenge their 
slaughtered brethren in Cholula ; and all the military 
authority, and unbounded influence of Cuitlahua were 
required to keep them in a state of due subordination. 

The influence and authority of Cortez, on the other 



64 THE TLASCALANS IN CHOLULA. 

hand, were scarcely sufficient to restrain his victo- 
rious allies from ravaging the city, and putting men, 
women, and children to an indiscriminate slaughter. 
So bitter and pervading was the old national animo- 
sity, that life was scarcely worth possessing to a Tlas- 
calan, if he must share its daily blessings side by 
side with the Aztec. He hated the whole nation 
with a perfect implacable hatred. He execrated the 
very name, and never uttered it without a curse. Of 
this universal malediction, the Cholulan was honored 
with more than his appropriate share. The other sub- 
jects and tributaries of Montezuma they feared as well 
as hated. The Cholulans they affected also to despise, 
though their contempt was not so thorough as to miti- 
gate in the least their fierce and uncontrollable hatred. 



CHAPTER IV. 



AGITATIONS IN THE CAPITAL — THE ROYAL HOUSEHOLD THE 

SPANIARDS STEADILY ADVANCING. 

JFor monarcf)s tremble on tfjefr thrones, 

&nfc 'neatj) tf?e {jem^lit crotou, 
©ate, fear, an"3 enbj tttoell— 



-SEfjci) eome, 



J&gstertous, tireatieti flanfc ! 

©£tt!) clans of trumpet, tore$ anti firantf ; 

SStftf) Ifjjljtmnfi speett, toft!) Ifajbtmuij $otoer, 

STJjeg scale t$c loftg mountain totoer, 

^rtB stozzg alono, tije bale— 

©Sftjo sijall arrest tljetr prouS career, 

^nU sabe our Tioomett Iant« 1 

This position of affairs suited the timid and vacillating 
policy of Montezuma. Finding that Cnitlahua, and his 
forces, had taken no part in the affair, and had not 
even visited the city, he immediately sent an embassy 
to the Spanish camp, disclaiming all participation in 
the treacherous counsels and doings of the Cholulans, 
and severely blaming them for their unheard of outrage 
upon the rites of hospitality. Whether the sharp- 
sighted Castilian placed any confidence in these pro- 
fessions, or not, it suited his designs to appear to do so. 

6* 



66 MONTEZUMA IN DESPAIR. 

With the utmost seeming cordiality, he assured the 
royal messengers that it gave him the most heartfelt 
satisfaction to know that the treatment he had received 
at Cholula was not instigated or countenanced by their 
august master, that it was unworthy of a great and 
wise monarch, and that he should proceed on his route 
to the capital, with the same confidence as before, arid 
visit the emperor as if nothing had happened to hinder 
his progress. 

Withdrawing the forces under Cuitlahua, and giving 
orders every where for the hospitable reception and 
entertainment of the Castilians, whom he had no longer 
the heart to oppose either by stratagem or by force, 
Montezuma retired within his palace, and for several 
days shut himself up from all intercourse with his 
chiefs. He was now fully convinced that his destiny 
was sealed, and with it that of his family and crown. 
He was in the hands of an unappeaseable fate. He 
gave himself up to fasting, prayer and sacrifice. He 
consulted all his oracles anew. But they gave no 
response. He then sought counsel of his chiefs, and 
the sages of his court. Here again he was distracted 
by the divided opinions of his friends. While many of 
the princes, overawed by the invincible courage and 
invariable success of the Castilians, advised a frank 
and courteous reception, there was still a powerful war- 
party, with the brave Cuitlahua at their head, who 
were eager to measure lances with the strangers, and 
show them that, in order to reach the capital, they had 
other foes to contend with and overcome, than half 
savage Tlascalans, or trading Cholulans. 

Montezuma found no difficulty in following the 



TRIUMPHANT ADVANCE OP CORTEZ. 67 

counsel of the majority, though the mystic warning of 
Karee had not wholly faded from his mind. A new 
embassy was immediately despatched, consisting of a 
numerous suite of powerful nobles, and a long train of 
servants bearing rich presents of gold, and other valua- 
bles, and charged with a message couched in terms of 
humble and earnest supplication, proposing, if the 
Spaniards would now return, not only to send them 
home laden with gold to their utmost wish, but to pay 
an annual tribute of gold to their master, the king of 
Spain. Finding that this bribe only fired the grasping 
conqueror with a more fixed determination to secure 
the whole prize for which he had so long, and against 
such fearful odds, contended, the messengers yielded the 
point, and threw wide open to the dreaded foe every 
avenue to the heart of the empire, assuring him, in the 
name of the Emperor, that he should be received as a 
brother, and entertained with the consideration due to 
the powerful representative of a mighty monarch. 

The march of the Spaniards was now a continued 
triumph. No longer compelled to fight their way on, 
they had time to enjoy the rich and varied scenery, to 
scale the mountain, explore the caverns and ravines of 
the sierras, and the craters of the volcanoes, and show 
to the admiring natives, by their agility and love of 
adventure, that righting and conquest had neither tamed 
their spirits, nor exhausted their physical powers. As 
they advanced, they were continually suprised and 
delighted with the growing evidences of civilization and 
high prosperity which met them on every side. In the 
cultivation of the land, in the style of architecture, and 
in all that constitutes the refinement, or contributes to 



68 HIS AMBITIOUS VIEWS HIS CAUTION. 

the comfort of life, the regions they were now traversing 
very far exceeded the best of those through which they 
had passed. They were continually gaining more 
exalted ideas of the power, wealth and glory of the 
great Montezuma, and more enlarged views of the mag- 
nificence of their own adventure, and the importance of 
their position and movements. The ambition of Cortez 
reached to the viceroyalty of this splendid empire ; and, 
though accompanied by a mere handful of men, their 
past achievements inspired him with confidence, that 
he could carry every thing before him. 

Though entertained with lordly munificence in every 
place through which he passed, and visited and com- 
plimented by envoys from all the states embraced in 
the Mexican domain, the sagacious Spaniard relaxed 
none of his vigilance, nor diminished aught of the 
strict discipline of his little corps. With an eye ever 
awake to his own safety, and feeling that the artful 
contriver of one stratagem could easily invent another, 
he advanced from post to post, in martial array, always 
ready for the exigency that might arise. His course, 
however, was unmolested. The resources and hopes 
of the great king seemed to have been exhausted. In 
passive despair, he was waiting for the hour of his 
doom. 

The terror of the events we have described fell not 
alone upon the unfortunate Montezuma ; nor did they 
affect him only as monarch of the realm. As a parent, 
fondly devoted to his children, whose destiny was 
wrapped up in his, as the father of his people, to whom 
he had been a kind of demi-god, the vicegerent of 
heaven, entitled to their unqualified reverence, obe- 



FATHER AND DAUGHTER. 69' 

dience and love, he felt with tenfold intensity the 
bitterness of his humiliation. Tn all his sufferings and 
distresses his wives and children shared, showing, by 
every token in their power, their profound respect and 
affection, and their tender sympathy in all his cares. 
In these lovely demonstrations of filial affection, none 
were more assiduous or warm-hearted, and none more 
successful in reaching the heart of the broken spirited 
monarch, or winning from him an occasional smile of 
hope, than Tecuichpo. Just ripening into womanhood, 
with every gift of person, mind and heart that could 
satisfy the pride of the monarch, and requite to the full 
the yearning love of the father, the fair princess 
lavished on him all her powers of persuasion and 
condolence. It was all in vain. It even aggravated 
his sorrows; for it was on her account, and that of 
others dearer to him than his own life, that he suffered 
most deeply. The mysterious shadows that had 
brooded so darkly over the infancy of his lovely daugh- 
ter, had never ceased to shed a chilling gloom over 
his mind. Her clouded destiny was linked with his, 
not merely as a child, but as one specifically marked 
out, by infallible signs from heaven, for a signal doom. 
His superstitious faith invested her and her fate with a 
peculiar sacredness. She was as one whom the gods 
had devoted to an awful sacrifice, from which neither 
imperial power nor paternal love could rescue her. It 
therefore pierced his soul with a deeper pang to gaze 
upon her loveliness, and witness her amiable efforts to 
soothe and sustain him in the midst of calamities that 
were more terrible and overwhelming to her, than even 
to himself. If, by offering himself as a sacrifice to his 



*70 THE ROYAL HOUSEHOLD. 

offended gods, he could have propitiated their favor for 
his family and his people, and handed down to his pos- 
terity an undiminished empire and an untarnished 
crown, he would have gone with as much pride and 
pleasure, to the altar, as to a triumphal festival that 
should celebrate his victory, and clothe his brow with 
unfading laurel. But in this sacrifice there was no 
substitution. He was himself the most distinguished 
victim, destined to the highest and hottest place on the 
great altar of his country, where a hecatomb would 
scarce suffice to appease the anger of the offended gods. 
Gathering his royal household around him, he 
explained to them the peculiarity of his position, avow- 
ing his entire confidence in the ancient prophecy, which 
declared that the realm of Anahuac belonged to a race 
of white men, who had gone away, for a season towards 
the rising sun, and who, after the lapse of ages, were to 
return in power, and claim their inheritance. It was 
the predestined arrangement of the gods, and could not 
be resisted. He had, from the beginning felt that resist- 
ance was wholly vain, and had only attempted it, in 
deference to the urgent advice and solicitations of his' 
best and most experienced counsellors. For himself, 
he was ready, at any time, to stand at his post, and die, 
if necessary, in defence of his crown and his people. 
But he could not contend with the gods. Empires and 
crowns, and the lives and happiness of nations, were 
at their disposal, and kings and subjects alike must sub- 
mit to their righteous requirements. It was but the 
dictate of common piety to say " the will of the gods 
be done." Hard and trying as it was, he felt it incum- 
bent on him to relinquish his crown and his honors, at 



A FAMILY SCENE. 71 

their bidding, as cheerfully as he should lay down his 
life, when his destined hour should arrive. He coun- 
selled them to bow submissively to their inevitable fate, 
in^the hope that, though humbled, broken and scattered 
in this world, they might meet and dwell together in 
peace in the paradise of the gods. 

His wives and children wept around him. They 
besought him to hope yet for the best — to turn away 
his thoughts from the dark visions on which he had 
dwelt too long and too intensely. Their mysterious 
forebodings of evil might yet be averted, through the 
favor of the gods, to whom a childlike, cheerful confi- 
dence in their benignity and paternal regard, was more 
acceptable, than that blind abandonment, sometimes 
mistaken for submission, which views them as stern, 
arbitrary, and implacable tyrants, rather than as parents 
of the human family, watching over it for the good of 
mankind, and ordering all events for the welfare of 
their true children. 

This was a cheerful faith, and, seasonably adopted, 
might have saved the life and throne of Montezuma, 
and preserved, for many years, the integrity of his 
empire. But his heart was not prepared to receive it. 
Steeped in the dismal superstitions of the Aztec faith, 
and yielding himself unreservedly to the guidance and 
dictation of its constituted oracles, he had never, for a 
moment, allowed himself to falter in his conviction, 
that the Aztec dynasty was to terminate with him, and 
that he and his family were doomed to a terrible 
destruction, in the overthrow of the sacred institutions 
of his beloved land. 

The scene was too thrilling for the tender heart of 



72 EXCURSION ON THE LAKE. 

Tecuichpo, and she swooned away in the arms of her 
father, who had drawn her towards him in an affec- 
tionate embrace. The attendants were called, and, as 
soon as the unhappy princess was restored to conscious- 
ness, the king directed the royal barges to be prepare'd, 
and went out, with all his household, to enjoy the invi- 
gorating air of the lake, and seek relief from the dark 
thoughts that oppressed and overwhelmed them, in 
contemplating, from various points in view, the rich 
and varied scenery of that glorious valley. 

It was a brave spectacle to behold, when the impe- 
rial majesty of Tenochtitlan condescended to accom- 
pany his little fleet on such an excursion. The gaily 
appointed canoes, with their gorgeous canopies of 
embroidered cotton, and feather- work ; the splendid 
robes and plumes of the king and his attendants ; the 
rich and fanciful attire of the women ; the light, grace- 
ful, arrowy motions of the painted skiffs, as they 
danced along the waves ; together with the wonderful 
beauty of the lake, and its swimming gardens of 
flowers, presented a toute ensemble more like the fairy 
pictures of some enchanted sphere, than any thing 
we can now realize as belonging to this plain, prosaic, 
matter-of-fact world of ours. On this occasion, it 
seemed more gay and fairy-like than ever, in con- 
trast, perhaps, with the deep gloom that had settled 
on the land, pervading every heart, with its sombre 
shadows. 

The light pirogues of the natives, flying hither and 
thither over the glassy waters, on errands of business 
or of pleasure, arrayed in flowers, or freighted with 
fruits- and vegetables for the grand market of Tenoch- 



HOPE REVIVING. 73 

titlan, made way, on every side, for the advance of the 
royal cortege, which, threading the shining avenues 
between the gaily-colored chinampas, that spotted the 
surface of that beautiful lake, like so many islands of 
flowers on the bosom of the ocean, danced over the 
waters to the sound of music, and the merry voices 
of glad hearts, rejoicing in the sunny smiles that now 
played on the countenance of the king, as if the clouds 
that had so long overshadowed it, were never to return. 
Tecuichpo, restored to more than her wonted gaiety, 
was full of life and animation. Never had she seemed, 
in the eyes of her doting father, and of the admiring 
courtiers, half so lovely as at this moment. She was 
the centre attraction for all eyes. Her resplendent 
beauty, her fairy-like gracefulness of motion, and the 
artless simplicity of her manners, won the admiring 
notice of all. Her gaiety was infectious. Her merry 
laugh reached, with a sort of electric influence, every 
heart in that bright company, and compelled even her 
father to abandon, for the time, his sad and solemn 
reflections, and give himself up to the spirit of the hour 
and the scene. 

Guatimozin was there, and exerted all his eloquence 
to keep up the spirit of the hour, in the earnest hope 
that Montezuma would put on all the monarch again, 
and assert the majesty of his insulted crown, and the 
rights of his house and his people, in despite of omen 
or legend, and in the face of every foe. 

Tecuichpo became more and more animated, till she 
seemed quite lifted above herself and the world about 
her. Suddenly rising in the midst, and pointing, with 
great energy of expression, to the royal eagle of Mex- 

7 



74 THE DREAM AND ITS ECHO. 

ico, then sweeping down from his mountain eyrie, to 
prey upon the ocelot of the distant valley, she ex- 
claimed — 

'Tis he ! 'Tis he ! our imperial bird ! 
Whom the gods to our aid have sent ; 

I saw him in my dream, and heard, 
As down from his airy flight he bent, 
His victor shout, with the dying wail, 
Of the coming foe, borne on the gale ; 
While the air was dark with the gathering throng 
Of bold young eaglets, that swept along 
From every cliff, in fierceness and wrath, 
To gorge on their prey, in the mountain path. 

When she ceased, an echo from a richly cultivated 
chinampa, which they were then passing, seemed to 
take up and prolong the strain. 

I saw it too, and I heard the scream, 

In the midst of my dark and troubled dream ; 

'Twas a dream of despair for our doomed land, 

For his wings were bound by the royal hand ; 

His talons were wreathed with a golden chain, 

He smelt the prey, and he chafed in vain, 

For they trampled him down, in their brave career, 

While our monarch looked on with unmanly fear, 

Till his crown and his sceptre in dust were laid low, 

And proud Tenochtitlan had passed to the foe. 

The last words of this solemn chant died away on 
the ear, just as the royal barge rounded the little arti- 
ficial promontory, which the ingenious Karee had 
constructed, for the double purpose of an arbor and 
look-out, at one of. the angles of her chinampa. Lean- 
ing over the brow, and supporting herself by the over- 



SUDDEN RETURN. / 5 

hanging branch of a luxuriant myrtle, she dropped a 
wreath of evergreen upon the head of Tecuichpo, and 
said — 

Oh ! child of doom, 
Thy long sealed destiny is come — 

One brief, dark, dreadful night, 
Then on those blessed eyes 

Another day shall rise, 
Fair, glorious, bright, 

With an unearthly endless light. 
Thou shalt lay down 
An earthly crown, 
To win a starry sceptre in the skies 

At this momentj signals were heard among the dis- 
tant hills, which, answered and repeated from countless 
stations along the wild sierras, and reverberated by a 
thousand echoes as they came, burst upon the quiet 
valley, like the confused shouts of a mighty host rush- 
ing to battle. It fell like a death-knell upon the ear of 
Montezuma. It announced the arrival, within the 
mountain wall which encompassed his golden valley, 
of the dreaded strangers. It heralded their near ap- 
proach to his capital, and the exposure of all he held 
dear to their irresistible power — their terrible rapacity. 
His heart sunk within him. But he had gone too far 
to retract. It was the act of the gods, not his. Banish- 
ing from his mind the impressions of the scenes just 
passed, he waved his hand to the rowers, and instantly 
every prow was turned, and the gaily caparisoned, but 
melancholy, terror-stricken pageant moved rapidly back 
to the city. 

Tenochtitlan was now alive with the bustle of pre- 



76 THE SPANISH QUARTERS — CACAMA's EMBASSY. 

paration. It was the preparation, not for war, which 
would far better have suited the multitude both of the 
chiefs and the people, but for the hospitable reception 
and entertainment of the strangers. The great imperial 
palace, which had been the royal residence of the father 
of Montezuma, was fitted up for their accommodation. 
With its numberless apartments, its spacious courts, 
and magnificent gardens, it was sufficient for an army 
much larger than that of the Castilians, swelled as it 
was by the company of their Tlascalan allies. Every 
room was newly hung with beautifully colored tapestry, 
and furnished with all the conveniences and luxuries 
of Mexican life. The appointments and provisions 
were all on a most liberal scale, for the Emperor was 
as generous and munificent as the golden mountains 
from which he drew his inexhaustible treasures. 

Intending that nothing should be wanting to the 
graciousness of his submission to this act of constrained 
courtesy, Montezuma proposed to his brother Cuitlahua, 
to choose a royal retinue from the flower of the Aztec 
nobility, and go out to meet the strangers, and bid them 
welcome, in his name, to his realm and his capital. 
From this the soul of the proud undaunted soldier 
revolted, and he entreated so earnestly to be excused 
from executing a commission, so much at variance 
with his feelings and his convictions, that the monarch 
relented, and assigned the mission to Cacama, the 
young prince of Tezcuco. 

Nothing could exceed the gorgeous splendor of this 
embassy. Borne in a beautiful palanquin, canopied 
and curtained with the rarest of Mexican feather- work, 
richly powdered with jewels, and glittering with gold, 



EXCHANGE OF COURTESIES. 77 

Cacama, preceded and followed by a long train of 
noble veterans and youths, all apparelled in the gayest 
costnme of their country, presented himself before the 
advancing host. His approach, and the errand on 
which he came, having been announced by a herald, 
Cortez halted his band, and drew up his forces in the 
best possible array, to give him a fitting reception. 

The meeting took place at Ajotzinco, on, or rather 
within, the borders of the lake Chalco, the first of the 
bright chain of inland lakes which the Spaniards had 
seen, and the place where they first saw that species of 
amphibious architecture, which prevailed so extensively 
among the Mexicans. When the royal embassy 
arrived in front of the waiting army, Cacama alighted 
from his palanquin, while his obsequious officers swept 
the ground before him, that he might not soil his royal 
feet, by too rude a contact with the earth. He was a 
young man of about twenty five years, with a fine 
manly countenance, a noble and commanding figure, 
and an address and manners that would have done 
honor to the most courtly knight of Christendom. 
Stepping forward with a bland and dignified courtesy, 
he made the customary Mexican salutation to persons 
of high rank, touching his right hand to the ground, 
and raising it to his head. Cortez embraced him as he 
rose, and the prince, in the name of his royal master, 
gave the strangers a hearty welcome, assuring them 
that they should be received with a hospitality, and 
treated with a respect, becoming the representatives of 
a great and mighty prince. He then presented Cortez 
with a number of large and valuable pearls, which act 
of munificence was immediately returned by the present 



/8 RECEPTION AT IZTAPALAPAN. 

of a necklace of cut glass, hung over his neck by Cor- 
tez. As glass was not known to the Mexicans, it pro- 
bably had in their eyes the value of the rarest jewels. 

This interview being over, the royal envoy hastened 
back to the capital, while the Castilians and their allies, 
in the two-fold character of hostile invaders and invited 
guests, followed his steps by slow, easy and cautious 
marches. After a few days, during which they passed 
through large tracts of highly cultivated and fertile 
ground, and several of the beautiful towns and cities of 
the plateau, they arrived at Iztapalapan, a place of 
great beauty, and large resources, and the residence of 
Cuitlahua, the noble brother of Montezuma. At the 
command of the Emperor, Cuitlahua, as governor of 
this place, received the strangers with courtesy, and 
treated them with attention. But it was a cold courtesy, 
and a constrained attention. With a proud and 
haughty mem, the brave soldier exhibited to the 
wondering strangers, all the riches and curiosities of the 
place, disposing every thing in such a manner as to 
impress them most powerfully with the immense wealth 
of the empire, and the irresistible power of the Emperor. 
He collected around him all the richest and most potent 
nobles in his neighborhood, and displayed a magnifi- 
cence of style, and a prodigality of expenditure, that 
was truly princely. The extent and beauty of his 
gardens, his beautiful aviary, stocked with every variety 
of the gorgeously plumed birds of that tropical clime, 
his menagerie, containing a full representation of all the 
wild races of animals in Anahuac, struck the Spaniards 
with surprise and admiration ; while the architecture 
of his palaces, and the many refinements of his style of 



LOFTY BEARING OF CUITLAHUA. 79 

living, gave them the highest ideas of the advanced 
state of civilization to which the Mexicans had attained. 

But, so far from disheartening them in their grand 
design, all they saw of wealth and splendor in the 
inferior cities, only served to inflame their desire to see 
the capital, and learn if any thing more brilliant and 
wonderful than they had yet seen, could be furnished 
at the great metropolis. While they were daily more 
and more convinced of the power and resources of their 
enemy, and the seeming impossibility of their own 
enterprise, they were also daily more and more inflamed 
with the desire and purpose to possess themselves of the 
incalculable treasures which every where met their 
eyes. The cold aspect, and lofty bearing of the Prince 
Cuitlahua, the commander-in-chief of the Mexican 
armies, and heir apparent to its throne, left no doubt 
that the final struggle for power would be ably and bit- 
terly contested, and that the wealth they so ardently 
coveted, would be dearly bought. To a heart less bold 
and self-reliant than that of Cortez, it would have been 
no enviable position, to be shut up, with his little band 
of followers, within the gates of a city, commanded by 
so brave and experienced a soldier, whose personal 
feelings and views were known to be of the most hostile 
character. To the iron-hearted Castilian, it was but a 
scene in the progress of his romantic adventure ; and, 
the greater the difficulty, the more imminent the peril, 
the more cordially he trusted to his good genius, or his 
patron saint, he seems not to have known which, to 
carry him triumphantly through. 

They were now but one day's march, and that a 
short and easy one, from the imperial city. Already 



80 THE CAPITAL AND ITS ENVIRONS. 

they had seen it from a distance, resting, or rather 
riding, on the hosom of the lake, glowing and glittering 
in the sunbeams, like some resplendent constellation, 
transferred from the azure above to the azure below. 
They had seen its noble ally, the metropolis of the 
sister kingdom of Tezcuco, shining in rival though 
unequal splendor, on the opposite shore of the lake, 
and many other splendid cities, beautiful towns, and 
lovely hamlets, studding its bright border, in its entire 
circuit, like mingled gems and pearls, richly set in the 
band of the imperial diadem, all reposing under the 
shadow, and eclipsed by the superior glory, of the capi- 
tal, the crowning jewel of the Western World. They 
had seen the chinampas, those wandering gardens of 
verdure and flowers, seeming more like the fairy crea- 
tions of poetry, than the sober realities of life, and 
reminding them of those islands of the blest, which 
they had been told, in their childish days, floated about 
in the ethereal regions above, freighted with blessings 
for the virtuous, and sometimes stooping so near to 
earth as to permit the weary and the waiting to escape 
from their toils and trials here, and find repose in their 
celestial paradise. They had seen and admired the 
wonderful ^works of art, the causeways of vast extent, 
constructed with scientific accuracy, and of great 
strength and durability — the canals and aqueducts, 
and bridges, which would have done honor to the 
genius and industry of the proudest nation in Europe. 
It now remained to them to see the imperial lord of all 
these wide and luxuriant realms, * and to enter, as 
invited guests, into the gates of his royal abode. 



CHATTER T 



ARRIVAL OF THE SPANIARDS AT THE CAPITAL. THEIR 
RECEPTION BY MONTEZUMA. DETERMINED HOSTILITY 
OF GUATIMOZIN. 

3^arft! at tf)e bcr# portals nob) tijey stanti, 
2Beman*0fnu entrance. <£an £ simt tljem out, 
OT&en all ti>e gotis commtssfon tljem to come 1 
<£an toe atimft ti)em, anti pceserbe fntact 
&ux !)onor antr tf)e state ? 

The spectacle of this day, the eighth of November, 
1519, has not its parallel in the annals of history, and 
will probably never be repeated in the history of man. 
The sovereign and absolute monarch of a populous 
and powerful empire, stooping from his imperial throne, 
flinging wide open the gates of his capital, and conde- 
scending to go out, and receive with an appsttent wel- 
come an invading foe, whom he had in vain attempted 
to keep out, but whom he had now the power to crush 
under his feet in a moment. That invading foe con- 
sisted only of a few hundred adventurers, three thousand 
miles from home, in the heart of the country they had 
ravaged, and surrounded by countless thousands of 
exasperated foes, burning to revenge the injuries and 
insults they had received at the hands of the strangers, 



82 POSITION OF SPANIARD AND AZTEC. 

and only held back from rushing upon them., like herds 
of ravening tigers, by the strong arm of the royal pro- 
hibition. Their position was like that of a group of 
children in a menagerie, amusing themselves with 
teasing and exasperating the caged animals around 
them. The furious creatures glare on them with looks 
of rage, growling fiercely, and gnashing their teeth. 
The keeper sympathizes with his enraged subjects, 
burning to let them loose upon their annoyers, but 
restrained by that mysterious agency, in which the 
divine hand is every where moulding and subduing 
the natural impulses of humanity, and working out its 
own wise ends by the wrath and passions of men. 
Let the keeper but raise the bar of that cage for a 
moment, and not one of the bright group would be left 
to tell the tragic issue of their sport. Let the terror- 
stricken Montezuma put on once more the air of a 
monarch, and raise his finger as a signal for the onset, 
before the enemy has become entrenched in his fort- 
ress, and few, if any, of that brave band would be left 
to tell the world of their fate — the marvellous story of 
the Conquest would never be told ; the Aztec dynasty 
would outlive the period assigned it by those mystic 
oracles ; and Montezuma, recovered from the dark 
dreams of an imagination disordered by superstition — 
the long dreaded crisis of his destiny passed — would 
have swayed again the sceptre of undisputed empire 
over the broad and beautiful realms of Anahuac. 
Having once vanquished and destroyed the terrible 
strangers, and stripped them of that supernatural de- 
fence, which the idea of their celestial origin threw 
around them, he would never again have yielded his 



SPECULATION CORTEZ ADVANCING. 83 

soul to so unmanly a fear. If such had been the issue 
of the invasion of Cortez and his band, it is doubtful 
whether the Aztec dynasty would ever have been over- 
thrown. The civilization of Europe would soon have 
been engrafted upon its own. Christianity would have 
taken the place of their dark and bloody paganism; 
which, with a people so far enlightened as they were, 
could not have endured for a moment the noon-day 
blaze of the gospel ; and the terrible power of that hea- 
then despot would have been softened, without weak- 
ening it, into the consolidated colossal strength of an 
enlightened, Christian, peaceful empire. Christianity 
propagated by fire and sword consumes centuries, and 
wastes whole generations of men, in effecting a revolu- 
tion, which they who go with the olive branch in their 
hand, and the gospel of peace in their hearts, require 
only a few years to accomplish. Witness the recent 
triumphs of a peaceful Christianity in the Sandwich 
Islands, as contrasted with the bloody and wasting 
Crusades of Spaniards in all portions of the new 
world. 

With the earliest dawn, the reveille was beaten in 
the Spanish camp, and all the forces were mustered and 
drawn up in the order of their march. Cortez, at the 
head of the cavalry, formed the advanced guard, followed 
immediately by the Castilian infantry in solid column. 
The artillery and baggage occupied the centre, while 
the dark files of the Tlascalan savages brought up the 
rear. The whole number was less than seven thousand, 
not more than three hundred and fifty of whom were 
Spaniards. Putting on their most imposing array, with 
gay flaunting banners, and the stirring notes of the 



84 THE GRAND CAUSEWAY. 

trumpet, swelling over lake and grove, and rolling away 
in distant echoes among the mountains, they issued 
forth from the city, just as the rising sun, surmounting 
the eastern cordillera, poured the golden stream of day 
over the beautiful valley, and lighted up a thousand 
resplendent fires among the gilded domes, and enameled 
temples of the capital, and the rich tiara of tributary 
cities and towns that encircled it. Moving rapidly 
forward, they soon entered upon the grand causeway, 
which, passing through the capital, spans the entire 
breadth of the Tezcucan lake, constituting then the 
main entrance, as its remains do now the principal 
southern avenue, to the city of Mexico. It was com- 
posed of immense stones, fashioned with geometrical 
precision, well laid in cement, and capable of withstand- 
ing for ages the play of the waters, and the ravages of 
time. It was of sufficient width, throughout its whole 
extent, to allow ten horsemen to ride abreast. It was 
interrupted in several places by well built draw bridges 
for the accommodation of the numerous boats, that 
carried on a brisk trade with the several towns on the 
lake, and for the better defence of the city against an 
invading foe. At the distance of about half a league 
from the capital, it was also traversed by a thick heavy 
wall of stone, about twelve feet high, surmounted and 
fortified by towers at each extremity. In the centre 
was a battiemented gateway, of sufficient strength to 
resist any force that could be brought against it, by the 
rude enginery of native warfare. This was called the 
Fort of Xoloc. 

Here they were met by a very numerous and power- 
ful body of Aztec nobles, splendidly arrayed in their 



RETINUE OF THE EMPEROR. 85 

gayest costume, who came to announce the approach of 
Montezuma, and again in his name to hid the strangers 
welcome to the capital. As each of the chiefs presented 
himself, in his turn, to Cortez, and made the customary 
formal salutation, a considerable time was consumed in 
the ceremony ; which was somewhat more tedious than 
interesting to the hot spirited Spaniards. 

When this was over, they passed briskly on, and 
soon beheld the glittering retinue of the Emperor 
emerging from the principal gate of the city. The 
royal palanquin, blazing with burnished gold and pre- 
cious stones, was borne on the shoulders of the principal 
nobles of the land, while crowds of others, of equal or 
inferior rank, thronged in obsequious attendance around. 
It was preceded by three officers, bearing golden wandsf 
Over it was a canopy of gaudy feather- work, powdered 
with jewels, and fringed with silver, resting on four 
richly carved and inlaid pillars, and supported by four 
nobles of the same rank with the bearers. These were 
all bare-footed, and walked with a slow measured pace, 
as conscious of the majesty of their burden, and with 
eyes bent on the ground. Arrived within a convenient 
distance, the train halted, and Montezuma, alighting 
from his palanquin, came forward, leaning on the arms 
of his royal relatives, the lords of Tezcuco and Iztapa- 
lapan. As the monarch advanced, under the same 
gorgeous canopy which had before screened him from 
the public gaze, and the glare of the mid-day sun, the 
ground was covered with cotton tapestry, while all his 
subjects of high and low degree, who lined the sides of 
the causeway, bent their heads and fixed their eyes on 
the ground, as unworthy to look upon so much majesty. 

8 



86 THE PERSON OF MONTEZUMA. 

Some prostrated themselves on the ground before him, 
and all in that mighty throng were awed by his pre- 
sence into a silence that was absolutely oppressive. 

The appearance of Montezuma was in the highest 
degree interesting to the Spanish general and his fol- 
lowers. Flung over his shoulders was the tilmatli, or 
large square cloak, manufactured from the finest cotton, 
with the embroidered ends gathered in a knot round his 
neck. Under this was a tunic of green, embroidered 
with exquisite taste, extending almost to his knees, and 
confined at the waist, by a rich jeweled vest. His feet 
were protected by sandals of gold, bound with leathern 
thongs richly embossed with the same metal. The 
cloak, the tunic, and the sandals were profusely sprink- 
led with pearls and precious stones. On his head was 
a panache of plumes of the royal green, waving grace- 
fully in the light breeze. 

He was then about forty years of age. His person 
was tall, slender, and well proportioned. His com- 
plexion was somewhat fairer than that of his race 
generally. His countenance was expressive of great 
benignity. His carriage was serious, dignified and 
even majestic, and, without the least tincture of haugh- 
tiness, or affectation of importance, he moved with the 
stately air of one born to command, and accustomed to 
the homage of all about him. 

The strangers halted, as the monarch drew near. 
Cortez, dismounting, threw his reins to a page, and, 
supported by a few of his principal cavaliers, advanced 
to meet him. What an interview ! How full of thrill- 
ing interest to both parties ! How painfully thrilling 
to Montezuma, who now saw before him, standing on 



HIS INTERVIEW WITH CORTEZ. 87 

the very threshold of his citadel, the all-conquering 
white man, whose history was so mysteriously blended 
with his own ; whose coming and power had been 
foreshadowed for ages in the prophetic traditions of his 
country, confirmed again by his own most sacred 
oracles, and repeated by so many signs, and omens, and 
fearful prognostics, that he was compelled either to 
regard him as the heaven-sent representative of the 
ancient rightful lords of the soil, or to abandon his 
early and cherished faith, the religion of his fathers, 
and of the ancient race from which they sprung. 

Putting a royal restraint upon the feelings which 
almost overwhelmed him, the monarch received his 
guest with princely courtesy, expressing great pleasure 
in seeing him personally, and extending to him the 
hospitalities of his capital. The Castilian replied with 
expressions of the most profound respect, and with 
many and ample acknowledgements for the substantial 
proofs which the Emperor had already given of his 
more than royal munificence. He then hung on the 
neck of the king a sparkling chain of colored crystal, at 
the same time making a movement, as if he would 
embrace him. He was prevented, however, by the 
timely interference of two Aztec lords from thus pro- 
faning, before the assembled multitudes of his people, 
the sacred person of their master. 

After this formal introduction and interchange of 
civilities, Montezuma appointed his brother, the bold 
Cuitlahua, to conduct the Spaniards to their quarters in 
the city, and returned in the same princely state in 
which he came, amid the prostrate thousands of his 
subjects. Pondering deeply, as the train moved slowly 



88 ENTRY IN THE CAPITAL. 

on, upon the fearful crisis in his affairs which had now 
arrived, his ear was arrested by a faint low voice in the 
crowd, which he instantly recognized as Karee's, breath- 
ing out a plaintive wail, as if in soliloquy with her own 
soul, or in high communion with the spirits of the 
unseen world. The strain was wild and broken, but 
its tenor was deeply mournful and deprecatory. It 
concluded with these emphatic words — 

The proud eagle may turn to his eyrie again, 

But his pinions are clipped, and his foot feels the chain, 

He is monarch no more in his wide domain — 

The falcon has come to his nest. 

With an air of bold and martial triumph, their colors 
flying, and music briskly playing, the Spaniards, with 
the singular trail of half savage Tlascalans, the deadly 
enemies of the Aztecs, made their entrance into the 
southern quarter of the renowned Tenochtitlan, and 
were escorted by the brave Cuitlahua, to the royal 
palace of Axayacatl, in the heart of the city, once the 
residence of Montezuma's father, and now appropriated 
to the accommodation of Cortez and his followers. 

As they marched through the crowded streets, new 
subjects of wonder and admiration greeted them on 
every side. The grandeur and extent of the city, the 
superior style of its architecture, the ample dimensions, 
immense strength, and costly ornaments of the numer- 
ous palaces, pyramids and temples, separated and 
surrounded by broad terraced gardens in the highest 
possible state of cultivation, and teeming with flowers 
of every hue and name — the lofty tapering sanctuaries, 
and altars blazing with inextinguishable fires, — and 



CURIOSITY OF THE PEOPLE. 89 

above all, the innumerable throngs of people who 
swarmed through the streets and canals, filling every 
door-way and window, and clustering on the flat roof 
of every building as they passed, filled them with 
mingled emotions of admiration, surprise and fear. 

The swarming myriads of the Aztecs were, on their 
part, no less interested and amazed at the spectacle 
presented by their strange visitors. An intense and 
all-absorbing curiosity pervaded the entire mass of the 
people. Nothing could surpass their wonder and 
admiration of the prancing steeds, or four legged and 
double-headed men, as to their simple view they seemed 
to be, the rider as he sat with ease in his saddle, appear- 
ing to be but a part of the animal on which he rode. 
The piercing tones of the loud mouthed trumpets, 
astonished and delighted them exceedingly. But the 
deep thunder of the artillery as it burst upon them amid 
volumes of sulphurous smoke and flame, and then rolled 
away in long reverberated echoes among the moun- 
tains, filled them with indescribable alarm, and made 
them feel that the all-destroying god of war was indeed 
among them in the guise of men. 

While these scenes were enacting in the city, the 
palace was shrouded in the deepest gloom. When the 
monarch arrayed himself, in the morning, to go forth to 
meet the strangers, several incidents occurred, which 
were deemed peculiarly ominous, confirming all the 
superstitious forebodings of the king, and tending to 
take away from the yet trusting hearts of his house- 
hold, their last remaining hope. The imperial clasp, 
which bound his girdle in front, bearing as its device, 
richly engraven on the precious chalchivitl } the emblem 

8* 



90 OMENS GUATIMOZIN. 

of despotic power, which was the eagle pouncing upon 
the ocelot — snapped in twain, scattering the fragments 
of the eagle's head upon the marble pavement. The 
principal jewel in the royal diadem was found loose, 
and trembling in its setting. But, more portentous 
than all to the mind of the devout Montezuma, the 
priest, who had charge of the great altar on the 
Teocalli of Huitzilopotchli, had been seized with con- 
vulsions during the preceding night, and fallen dead at 
his post. The perpetual fire had gone out, for want of 
a hand to replenish it, and when the morning sun shot 
his first beams upon that high altar, there was not a 
spark among the blackened embers, to answer his 
reviving glow. 

It was impossible to shake off the influence of pre- 
sages like these. From infancy, he had been taught 
to read in all such incidents, the shadowy revealings 
of the will of the gods, the dark lines of destiny fore- 
shown to the faithful. The soul of Montezuma was 
oppressed almost to sinking. But he roused himself to 
his task, and went forth, feeling, as he went, that the 
ground trembled beneath his feet, while an untimely 
night gathered at noon-day over the sky. 

Among the noble princes who graced the court of 
Montezuma, there was no one of a nobler bearing, or a 
loftier heart, than his nephew Guatimozin, the favored 
lover of Tecuichpo. Unlike her disappointed suitor, 
the Prince of Tezcuco, he had uniformly and power- 
fully opposed the timid policy of the king, and urged, 
with Cuitlahua, a bold and unyielding resistance to the 
encroachments of the intruding Spaniards. His reluct- 



HIS DEVOTION TO HIS COUNTRY. 91 

ance to their admission to the capital was so great, that 
he refused to witness the humiliating spectacle ; prefer- 
ring to shut himself up in the palace, and sustain, if he 
could, the fainting courage of the princess, and her 
mother. All that could be done by eloquence, inspired 
by patriotic zeal and inflamed by a pure and refined 
love, was attempted by the accomplished youth, till, 
excited and inflamed by his own efforts to comfort and 
persuade others, and nerved to higher resolves,- by a 
new contemplation of the inestimable heart-treasures, 
which were staked upon the issue, a new hope seemed 
to dawn upon the clouded horizon of their destiny. 

" My fair princess," cried the impassioned lover, " it 
shall not be. These wide and glorious realms, teeming 
with untold thousands of brave and patriotic hearts, 
ready and able to defend our altars and our hearths, 
shall never pass away to a mere handful of pale-faced 
invaders. They must : they shall be driven back. Or, 
if our gods have utterly deserted us — if the time has 
indeed come, when the power and glory of the Aztec is 
to pass away for ever, let the Aztec, to a man, pass 
away with it. Let us perish together by our altars? 
and leave to the rapacious intruder a ravaged and 
depopulated country. I jet not one remain to grace 
his triumph, or bow his neck to the ignominious 
yoke." 

" Nay, my sweet cousin," she replied, with a tone 
and look of indescribable tenderness, " we will indeed 
die together, if need be, but let us first see if we cannot 
live together." 

" Live 1 " exclaimed Guatimozin. " Oh ! Tecuichpo, 
what would I not attempt, what would I not sacrifice, 



92 OMENS INTERPRETED. 

to the hope of living, if I might share that life with 
you. But my country ! my allegiance ! how can I 
sacrifice that which is not my own? — that inheritance 
which was all my birth-right, and which, as it pre- 
ceded, must necessarily be paramount to, all the other 
relations of life." 

" But, my father ! dear Guatimozin ! must he not be 
obeyed ? " 

" Yes, and he shall be. But he must be persuaded, 
even at this late hour, to dismiss the strangers, and 
banish them for ever from his domains. He has no 
right to yield it up. It belongs to his subjects no less 
than to him. He belongs to them, by the same sacred 
bond that binds them all to him. He may not sacrifice 
them to a scruple, which has in it more of superstition 
than of religion. I must go to the Temple of Cholula, 
and bring up the hoary old prophet of Q,uetzalcoatl, 
and see if he cannot move the too tender conscience of 
your father, and persuade him that his duty to his gods 
cannot, by any possibility, be made to conflict with his 
duty to his empire, and the mighty family of depend- 
ent children, whom the gods have committed to his 
care." 

" Oh ! not now, Guatimozin, I pray you. Do not 
leave us at this terrible moment. Stay, and sustain 
with your courageous hopes the sad heart of my dear 
father, who is utterly overwhelmed with the dire omens 
of this dismal morning." 

" Omens ! Oh ! Tecuichpo, shall we not rather say 
that the gods have thus frowned upon our cowardly 
abandonment of their altars, than that they design, in 
these dark portents, to denounce an irreversible doom, 



FILIAL DEVOTION VERSUS PATRIOTISM. 93 

which our prayers cannot avert, nor our combined wis- 
dom and courage prevent ? " 

At this moment Montezuma returned. But the deep 
distress depicted in his countenance, and the air of 
stern reserve which he assumed in the presence of 
those whose counsels would tend to shake his resolve, 
effectually prevented Guatimozin from pursuing, at that 
moment, the object nearest his heart. He retired into 
the garden, where he was soon joined by the fair prin- 
cess, who wished to divert him from his purposed 
visit to Cholula, knowing full well it would be a fruit- 
less mission. 

" But why, my brave cousin, may not my father be 
right, in feeling that these strangers are sent to us from 
the gods ? And if from the gods, then surely for our 
good; for the gods are all beneficence, and can only 
intend the well-being of their children, in all the 
changes that befal us here. Perhaps these strangers 
will teach us more of the beings whom we worship, 
and direct us how we may serve them better than 
we now do, and so partake more largely of their 
favor." 

" Alas ! my beloved, how can we hope that they 
who come to destroy, whose only god is gold — to the 
possession of which they are ready to sacrifice life, 
love, honor, every thing — how can we hope that they 
will teach us any thing better or higher than we learn 
from the ancient oracles of our faith, and the holy 
priesthood of our religion ? No, it cannot be. Their 
pathway is drenched in blood, and so it will be, till the 
throne, and he who honors it, are laid in dust at their 



94 THE PLEDGE A NEW OMEN. 

feet, and you and I, and all the myriads of our people, 
have become their abject slaves." 

" Say not so, I beseech you, dear Guatimozin. 
Where my father leads, I must follow, and hope for 
the best. And you must follow too, for I cannot go 
without you. Here, take this rose, and wear it as a 
pledge to me, over this sparkling fountain, that you 
will no more hazard the imperial displeasure, and the 
anger of the gods, by your bold and rash resistance of 
the known decrees of fate. And I will weave a chap- 
let of the same, to lay upon the altar, to propitiate for 
us all the favor of heaven." 

There was too much real chivalry in the heart of 
Guatimozin, to resist the earnest love and eloquent 
persuasion of his lady-love. He kissed her fair cheek 
in token of submission to her sway, and then led her to 
the palace, to learn if any thing new had transpired to 
encourage his hope that his wishes would yet be rea- 
lized, in the exclusion of the Spaniards from the city. 
As they passed along, they heard Karee-o-than, the gar- 
rulous pet of the Princess, seemingly soliloquising 
among the branches of the flowering orange that hung 
over her favorite arbor. They paused a moment, but 
could gather nothing from his chatterings but " Brave 
Guatimozin ! noble Guatimozin ! all is yours." 

" An omen ! my sweet cousin, a genuine emphatic 
omen ! Even Karee-o-than encourages me in my trea- 
son. I wish I knew how she would respond to the 
name of this redoubtable Cortez. Pray ask her, 
Tecuichpo, what she thinks of the Spaniard." 

" Fear you not to trifle thus ? " asked Tecuichpo. 

" Fear not, brave Guatimozin ! " responded the parrot. 



THE PROPHETESS AND THE DAUGHTER. 95 

" There, I have it again, my love ; all she says is 
against you. And what do you say of Malinche, pretty 
Karee-o-than ? " 

" Poor Malinche ! brave Guatimozin." 

" Bravo ! " exclaimed the Prince, " the bird is as 
good as an omen, and I" 

At that moment, Karee appeared, and coming to- 
wards them in great haste and trepidation, informed 
them that the Spaniards had already reached their 
quarters in the old palace, and that Montezuma had 
gone thither, in royal state, to receive them. 

" And what think you of all these things, my fairy 
queen," asked Guatimozin, playfully. 

" Wo ! wo ! wo ! to the imperial house of Tenoch- 
titlan!" energetically replied Karee, — u its glory is 
departed for ever, — its crown has fallen from the head 
of the great Montezuma, and there is none able to wear 
it, or to redeem it from the hand of the spoiler. Thou, 
most noble Prince, wilt do all that mortal courage and 
prowess can do, to rescue it from desecration, and to 
protect the house of Montezuma from the cruel fate to 
which he has delivered it up ; but it will be all in vain. 
He must perish by an ignominious death. They must 
pass under the yoke of the strangers, and thou, too, 
after all thy noble struggles and sacrifices, must perish 
miserably under their cruel and implacable rapacity." 

This was too much for Tecuichpo. She looked upon 
Karee as an inspired prophetess, and had always found 
it exceedingly difficult to sustain the filial confidence 
which sanctified every act and every purpose of her 
royal father, when the powerful incantations of Karee 
w T ere directed against them. It was a continual strug- 



96 SENSITIVENESS OF TECUICHPO. 

gle between an affectionate superstition, and filial love. 
But that first, and holiest, and strongest instinct of her 
heart prevailed, and she clung the more warmly to her 
father, when she found that every thing else was 
against him. But now the shaft had pierced her at 
another and an unguarded point. Her spirit fainted 
within her. She swooned in the arms of Guatimozin, 
and was borne to her apartment in a state of insensi- 
bility, where, under the kind and skilful nursing of 
Karee, and the affectionate assurances of Guatimozin, 
she was soon restored to health, and her accustomed 
cheerfulness. But these ceaseless agitations, these 
painful alternations of hope and fear, were slowly 
wearing upon her gentle spirit, and undermining a 
frame so delicately sensitive, that, like the aspen, 

It trembled when the sleeping breeze 



But dreamed of waking. 



CHAPTER VI. 

MUNIFICENCE OF MONTEZUMA. THE ROYAL BANQUET. 
THE REQUITAL. THE EMPEROR A PRISONER IN HIS 
OWN PALACE. 

"SSTas t&at tjwntier *" 



STJjose spletrtifB Jails resountr totti) rebelrg, 
^no* sans, anto trance leati on tfie tartrg tiaton. 



Sfxom tlje Jail of fns fatfjers fn anjjufsf) tie tUti f 
Nor again toftl its marble re=ecije fcfs treat*. 



Montezuma was always and every where munificent. 
When he had, though reluctantly, admitted the stran- 
gers into his capital, he prepared to give them a royally 
hospitable entertainment. Partly by way of triumph 
in the success of their movements hitherto, and partly 
by way of amusing, and at the same time overawing 
their entertainers, the Spaniards, the day after their 
arrival in the city, made a grand military display in 
their quarters, and in the neighboring streets. They 
exercised their prancing steeds in all the feats of horse- 
manship, racing, leaping, and careering, in all the wild 
majesty of the trained charger, under the three fold dis- 

9 



98 MILITARY DISPLAY ITS EFFECT. m 

cipline of bit and spur, and cheering shout. They 
rushed upon each other in the mock warfare of the 
tournament, with clashing sword and glancing spear, 
and then, discharging their carbines in the air, separa- 
ted amid clouds of dust and smoke, as if driven asunder 
by the bolts of heaven in their own hands. The 
astonished natives, accustomed only to the simple 
weapons of primitive warfare, looked on with undis- 
guised admiration, not unmixed with fear. The strange 
beings before them, wielding such unwonted powers, 
seemed indeed to have descended upon earth from some 
higher sphere, and to partake of that mysterious and 
fearful character, which they had been wont to ascribe 
to inhabitants of the spiritual world. But when, in 
closing off the day's entertainment, they brought out the 
loud-mouthed artillery, and shook the very foundations 
of the city with their oft-repeated thunders, the spirit 
of the Aztec sunk within him, and he felt, as he retired 
to his dwelling, that it was for no good end, that men of 
such power, having such fearful engines at their com- 
mand, had been permitted to fix their quarters in one 
of the fortresses of Tenochtitlan. 

" Alas ! " said an ancient Cacique from the northern 
frontier, " we are fallen upon evil times. Our enemies 
are even now in the citadel — enemies whom we know 
not, whose mode of warfare we do not understand, 
whose weapons defy alike our powers of imitation and 
resistance. Let us abandon the field, and retire to the 
far north, whence our fathers came, and rear a new em- 
pire amid the impregnable fastnesses of the mountains." 

"Who talks of abandoning the field to the enemy?" 
interrupted Guatimozin, — " Let no Aztec harbor so base 



THE TRUE SPIRIT AMONG THE PEOPLE. $9 

a thought. Rather let us stand by our altars and die, 
if die we must." 

"Right/' cried the youthful prince Axayatl, from 
the southern slope of the Sierra, " why should the all- 
conquering Aztec tremble at this display of the myste- 
rious strangers ? Are not the millions of Anahuac a 
match for a few hundred of their enemies, in whatever 
form they come? Be they gods, or be they demons, 
they belong not to this soil, nor this soil to them, and, 
by all our altars and all our gods, they must retire or 
perish, though we, and our wives, and our children 
perish with them." 

" Give us your hand, brave Axayatl," exclaimed 
Cuitlahua and Guatimozin, at the same instant, " be 
that our vow in life and in death, and wo to the base 
Aztec, that abandons the standard of Montezuma, or 
whispers of submission to the haughty stranger." 

Thus were the councils of the people divided between 
a timid superstition, and a bold uncompromising patriot- 
ism. There wanted not the material, if well directed, 
to annihilate, at a blow, the hopes of the daring inva- 
ders. The arm of the nation was strong and sinewy, 
but " the head was sick, and the heart faint." The 
Emperor, the hitherto proud and self-sufficient Monte- 
zuma, — 

Like a struck eagle fainting in his nest, 

had cowered to a phantom of his own diseased imagi- 
nation, and weakly consented to regard them as gods, 
whose passions, appetites and vices proved them to be 
men, and whose diminished numbers, after every battle 
they had fought, showed they were of mortal mould. 



100 THE ROYAL BANQ.UET. 

On the following day, a magnificent banquet was 
prepared for Cortez, and his officers, in the imperial 
palace. It was graced by the presence of all the 
nobility of Azteca, with all the pride and beauty of their 
household divinities — for, among this refined people, 
the wife and the daughter held her appropriate rank, 
and woman exercised all the influence, which, among 
(so called) civilized nations, Christianity alone has 
assigned her. Every apartment of that spacious and 
magnificent pile blazed with the light of odoriferous 
torches, which sent up their clouds of incense from 
hundreds of gold and silver stands, elaborately carved 
and embossed in every form that fancy could suggest, 
or ingenuity invent. Flowers of every hue and name 
were profusely distributed through the rooms, clustered 
in beautiful vases, or hung in gorgeous festoons and 
luxurious chaplets from the walls. The costume of the 
monarch and his court was as rich and gorgeous, as 
the rare and variegated plumage, with a lavish use of 
gold and gems, could make it. The women were as 
splendidly apparelled as the men. Many of them were 
extremely beautiful. Some were distinguished for 
their easy refinement of manners, which charmed, no 
less than it astonished, the Castilian knights, who had 
been accustomed to suppose that nothing so beautiful, 
or refined, could be found without the borders of Spain. 

By special command of the Emperor, all his nobles 
were present at this festival, so that Guatimozin, con- 
trary to his own will and purpose, was brought into 
contact with Cortez, and his steel-clad cavaliers. 
Tecuichpo also was there, in all her maiden loveliness, 
outshining all the stars of that splendid galaxy. And 



A CONTRAST. 101 

yet she was as a star in eclipse, for her soul was 
oppressed with those mysterious shadows that hung 
over her destiny and that of her father, as connected 
with the coming of these white men. Karee was there 
in attendance upon her mistress, as she still delighted 
to call her ; but her attention was more absorbed by the 
strangers than by Tecuichpo. She watched every 
movement, and scanned every countenance with a scru- 
tiny that did not escape their observation, in order to 
read, as well as she could, the character of each. Her 
scrutiny satisfied herself, and she whispered in the ear 
of the Princess, that " if these were gods, they came 
from the dark, and not from the sunny side of heaven," 

It was a rare spectacle, which this royal banquet 
presented. The contrast between the steel-clad cava- 
liers of Castile, whose burnished armor blazed and 
glittered in the brilliant torch-light, and rung under 
their heavy martial tramp upon the marble floor, 
and the comparatively fairy figures of the gaudily 
apparelled Aztecs, was as strong as could possibly be 
presented in a scene like this. The costumes and cus- 
toms of each were matter of wonder and admiration to 
the other. The Aztec trembled at the mysterious 
power, the incomprehensible weapons, of the white 
man. The Castilian, if he did not tremble, fully appre- 
ciated the danger of a little band, separated and scat- 
tered among a festive throng of warlike men, amid the 
interminable labyrinths of the imperial palace, and 
under the eye of a monarch whose word was absolute 
law to all the myriads of his people. 

But, whatever was passing in the inner man, the 
Aztec and the Castilian, alike, appeared perfectly at 



102 PRESENTATION TO THE Q.UEEN. 

ease, each abandoning himself to the festivities of the 
occasion, as if each, unannoyed by the presence of a 
stranger, were revelling in the security of his own 
castle, and celebrating some time-honored festival of his 
own people. 

With a benign dignity and grace, the Queen, and her 
suite of high-born ladies, received the homage of the 
cavaliers, after they had been presented to the Emperor. 
She was struck with admiration at the graceful and 
dignified bearing of the Castilian, which, while it 
showed all the deference and respect due to her sex 
and her rank, had nothing in it, of that abject servility, 
which placed an impassable barrier between the Aztec 
noble and his monarch, and made them appear to 
belong to distinct races of being. To the chivalrous, 
impassioned Castilian, accustomed to worship woman, 
and pay an almost divine homage to beauty, in the 
courtly halls and sunny bowers of Spain, the scene pre- 
sented a perfect constellation of grace and loveliness. 
The flashing eye of the Aztec maiden, as lustrous and 
eloquent as any in the gardens of Hesperides ; the jetty 
tresses, glittering with gems and pearls, or chastly 
decorated with natural flowers ; the easy grace of the 
loose flowing robe, revealing the full rich bust and the 
rounded limb, in its fairest proportions, won the instant 
admiration of every mailed knight, and brought again 
to his lips his oft-repeated vows of love and devotion. 

But of little avail were honied lips and eloquent 
tongues to the gallant cavaliers at that magic fete. 
They formed no medium of communion with the bright 
spirits, and gay hearts around them. The doom of 
Babel was on them all, and there was no interpreter. 



PANTOMIME — SANDOVAL AND THE PRINCESS. 103 

Nothing daunted by obstacles seemingly insurmount- 
able, the gay Spaniards resolved, that, where bright 
eyes were to be gazed on, and sweet smiles won from 
the ranks of youth and beauty, they would make a way 
for themselves. The first ceremonies of presentation 
over, each knight addressed himself to some chosen 
fair one, and by sign and gesture, and speaking look, 
and smile of eloquent flattery, commenced a spirited 
pantomimic attack, to the infinite amusement of all the 
gay throng around. It was met with wonderful spirit, 
and ready ingenuity, by the Aztec maidens, to whom 
the dialect of signs, and the language of hieroglyphics 
was perfectly familiar ; that being the only written lan- 
guage of all the nations of Anahuac. 

The spirit and interest of the scene that followed sur- 
passes all attempt at description. Abandoned to the 
gaiety of the hour, the Spaniards forgot alike their 
schemes of ambition and aggrandisement, and the 
peculiar perils whieh surrounded them; while the 
Aztec revellers dismissed, for the moment, both their 
superstitious dread of the white man, and their patri- 
otic disgust at his daring pretensions to universal 
dominion. 

The noble Sandoval, attracted by the mild beaming 
eye, and sweet smile of the Princess Tecuichpo, with a 
profound obeisance, laid his plumed helmet at her feet, 
and choosing, from a vase at her side, a half blown 
rose, which he gracefully twined with a sprig of ama- 
ranth, he first pressed it to his own heart and lips, and 
then placed it among the glittering gems upon her 
bosom. With queenly courtesy and grace, the fair 
princess received this gallant token, and instantly 



104 CORTEZ AND KAREE — AN ARGUMENT. 

responded to it, by stooping down, and weaving among 
the plumes, so courteously laid at her feet, another, of 
such rare beauty and brilliancy of hue, that it quite 
eclipsed the gayest feather in the hall. 

Cortez and Alvarado were, each in his turn, struck 
with the deep, dark, piercing eye of Karee, and each 
put forth his best endeavor to win from her a smile. 
But it was so coldly given, and accompanied with a 
look so deep and searching, that the general quailed 
before it, as he had never done before to mortal eye. 

Instantly recovering himself, he put on such a smile 
of blended grace and dignity, as melted at once the icy 
reserve of the maiden, and opened the way for a long 
and animated parley. It was full of sparkles and 
power, but could not be translated into any living 
tongue, without losing all its force and brilliancy. 

Meanwhile, an animated discussion had arisen be- 
tween Guatimozin and the Prince of Tezcuco, touching 
the propriety of receiving gifts from the strangers, or, in 
any way, acknowledging their claims as friends. The 
showy trinket, which Cacama had received from Cor- 
tez at Ajotzinco, and which he displayed on his per- 
son at this festival, gave rise to the dispute. 

" It is wrong/' urged Guatimozin, " wrong to our 
country and wrong to ourselves. Let them gain what 
they can from the exuberant munificence of the Empe- 
ror, and let them stay in peace, while he permits and 
requires it, — but let us not weaken our hands, by 
touching their gifts, or accepting their tokens. When 
they depart, let them not boast that they have left any 
remembrancer behind them, or laid claims upon our 
hands, by their gifts, which we have freely accepted ." 



AN INCIDENT. 105 

"Surely, my dear cousin," said the Princess, "you 
make too much of so small a matter. They are but 
common courtesies, and too trifling for such grave con- 
sideration and argument." 

" Not so, believe me, my fair cousin. They take us 
on the weak side of the heart — they blind our eyes to 
our true relations, unnerve our arms, and blunt our 
weapons of defence." 

" What then would you do," asked Cacama, as if 
more than half persuaded that Guatimozin was right in 
his views of duty. 

" Do," replied the Prince, with startling energy of 
tone and manner, " I would fling it at his feet, or tram- 
ple it under my own, before his eyes, and show him that 
I scorn him and his gifts alike." 

Tecuichpo turned suddenly round at this remark, as 
if fearing the stranger would understand it, and in her 
agitation, dropped a magnificent jewel from her dress, 
and with it the rose so gallantly presented by Sandoval. 
A dozen princes and cavaliers sprang, at the same 
instant, to replace the precious toy. Pedro Orteguilla, 
the beautiful young page of Cortez, was so fortunate as 
to recover it. Doffing his cap, and kneeling gracefully 
at her feet, he presented it to the Princess with an air of 
admiring deference, and, by signs, solicited the honor 
of replacing it upon her arm. 

This little incident put an end to the discussion, 
which was growing too warm for the occasion, and the 
festivities went on as gaily as before. 

A group of sprightly, mischief loving girls, who had 
clustered round the cool basin of a sparkling jet d* eau, 
and were amusing themselves by free and fearless 



106 4.LVARAD0 AND THE NAIADS. 

comments upon the appearance and manners of the 
strangers, arrested the eye of the impulsive, humor 
loving Alvarado, and drew him to solicit a share in 
their sport ; for, in beating a retreat from the eagle 
glance of Karee, he had strolled into an illuminated 
arbor, in one of the open courts of the palace. With 
hand, and eye, and lip, now appealing in emphatic 
gesture to the stars above, and now, with ready tact 
and admirable sagacity distributing the flowers among 
the gay naiads of the fountain, he soon ingratiated 
himself into their favor, and engaged them in a brilliant 
and animated pantomime, which, if it wanted the elo- 
quence of words, found ample compensation for that 
defect, in the merry shout and ringing laugh, that 
accompanied each labored attempt to utter, or interpret, 
a sentiment. The gallant cavalier soon found himself 
loaded with a profusion of floral favors. For every 
flower he bestowed upon the fair nymphs, he received 
an appropriate return, till his hands were full, and he 
found it necessary to arrange them upon his person. 

Instantly the whole group, as by one impulse of 
artistic taste, seized the idea, and resolved to array him 
as a flower-god. The magnificent cactus flashed 
among the plumes of his helmet — a pair of splendid 
magnolias, tastefully adjusted on either shoulder, sup- 
plied the place of the silver epaulette — a rich cluster 
of unfading forget-me-not, covered and eclipsed the 
gilded star upon his breastplate ; while every joint in 
his armor, and every loop and button of his doublet, 
was set with its appropriate garden gem. Long 
wreaths of a blossoming vine were dexterously inter- 
twined with flowers of everv brilliant hue, and hung 



THE METAMORPHOSES THE FEAST. 107 

like a gorgeous sash over his right shoulder, its gay 
streamers waving in the gentle breeze, or winding them- 
selves about the scabbard of his sword. His hands 
were gloved with a moss of the most delicate green 
velvet, dotted with golden stars, and his boots trans- 
formed into buskins of the most approved classic pat- 
tern, by alternate bands of jessamine and scarlet lobelia, 
crossed and plaided with strings of anemone and hya- 
cinth. 

Thus arrayed, his face skilfully masked with the 
flowering wax-plant despoiled of its leaves, he was 
conducted into the presence of the Q,ueen, under a 
continually increasing escort of bright girls and fair 
dames, where, with due reverence to her majesty, and 
with the gallantry becoming a true knight, he begged, 
by significant looks and signs, to be permitted to lay all 
his bright honors at the feet of the lovely Tecuichpo. 

The signal being given at this moment, he offered 
his arm to the Princess, and led the way into the ban- 
queting hall, where the luxuries of all the climes of 
earth seemed to be spread out in endless profusion, and 
where, the native song of the Aztec alternating with the 
martial strains of the Castilian band, the night wore 
away with feasting and revelry. 

The day had almost dawned, when the strangers, 
laden with presents- of inestimable value, returned to 
their quarters, burdened with the weight of their trea- 
sures, and deeply* impressed with the more than regal 
munificence of their host, and the unimagined loveli- 
ness and grace of the fair beings, who gave life and 
beauty to his magnificent court. 

" If these white gods can be bought, dear father," the 



108 A BOLD RESOLVE. 

Princess naively remarked, as they took their leave, 
"you have surely paid a price worthy of the ransom of 
the proudest monarch on earth." 

" The more you bribe them," interrupted Guatimozin, 
" the less you bind them. They have not the soul of 
an Aztec, who scorns to receive a favor that does not 
pledge his heart in return. The Spaniard's heart has 
nothing to do with his hand. He takes your gift, only 
to be the better able to plot and compass your ruin." 

The Emperor sighed, as he listened to a remark, to 
which he could make no reply. It brought again 
before his agitated mind, the only course he could 
safely adopt in the present crisis of his affairs. In 
vain did his paternal heart second the suggestion, and 
his kingly pride urge its immediate adoption. He had 
not the moral courage to execute his own resolve. 
Superstition had wholly unmanned him. 

The victorious Spaniard had now reached the goal 
he had so long aimed at. But his position was far 
from agreeable, or promising. With a small force, he 
was completely shut up in the heart of an immense and 
powerful empire, teeming with millions of warriors, 
who were deemed terrible and invincible by those 
whom he had found so formidable, and who might, at 
a word or a look from their sovereign, either rush in 
and overwhelm him at once, or withhold all supplies, 
and leave them to perish of famine in their quarters. 

Cortez realized the critical position into which he 
was drawn, and resolved immediately on one of his bold 
measures, to turn it to his own advantage. Soliciting 
an interview with Montezuma, in which he was accom- 



BLIND SUBMISSION TO FATE. 109 

panied by some of his bravest cavaliers, he informed 
the monarch, that it was not an idle curiosity that had 
drawn him to encounter the perils, and undergo the 
toils, of the adventure that had brought him to the 
capital. He came, as the accredited ambassador of the 
mighty monarch of Castile, to whom many kings and 
many broad lands were tributary, and who was the 
rightful lord of all the territories on which his armies 
had set their foot. And the object of the present inter- 
view was, to demand of the king an acknowledgment 
of his allegiance to his royal master, and his consent to 
pay an annual tribute for his crown. 

The mind of the superstitious Montezuma had long 
been preparing for this acknowledgment. With little 
apparent constraint, therefore, he responded to this 
haughty demand — that the oracles of his religion had 
long ago instructed him, that the territories over which 
he reigned belonged to a race of white men, who had 
removed to other lands beyond the rising sun, but 
would return, in process of time, invested with more 
than mortal power, to claim their original inheritance. 
For his part, he was fully convinced that that time had 
now arrived — that the Spaniards were the men of des- 
tiny foretold by a long line of presages and traditions, 
and that he was fully prepared to acknowledge the 
king of Castile as his lord, and pay allegiance to him 
as such. 

" And recognize me," interposed the wily Castilian, 
" as his accredited ambassador, and representative ? " 

The monarch assented. 

The Aztec nobles, who surrounded the throne, were 
thunderstruck at the humble tone, and humiliating 

10 



110 A NEW INSULT MEDITATED. 

attitude assumed by their once proud and imperioi 
lord. But they were accustomed to unqualified anc' 
unquestioning submission to the word of the king. 
They accordingly, at his command, gave a full assent 
to all that he had said, and agreed to recognize Cortez 
as the representative of their new sovereign. Guati- 
mozin left the hall in disgust, and hastened to Iztapa- 
lapan, to report the progress of their humiliation to 
Cuitlahua. 

Even with this arrangement, which had been accom- 
plished so much more easily than he had expected, 
Cortez was by no means satisfied. He was still in the 
power of the Mexican, and could never feel safe in the 
position he held, without some substantial pledge, that 
the peace of the city would be preserved, and the 
ground he had already secured be left to him in undis- 
turbed possession. To secure this, he conceived and 
executed a bolder and more audacious measure than 
that which we have just related. Soliciting another 
and a private interview with the Emperor, and direct- 
ing his best and bravest cavaliers, with some of their 
chosen men, to keep near and about the palace, and be 
in readiness to sustain and defend him, if any resist- 
ance or outbreak should follow his daring attempt, he 
entered the royal presence. As the Spaniards always 
carried their arms, it excited no suspicion, to see them 
on this occasion fully equipped. 

This disposition of his men and officers being effected, 
the bold cavalier addressed himself, in a stern voice, to 
the Emperor, charging him with secretly designing the 
destruction of his guests, and alleging, in support of the 
charge, some of the incidents already related, and others 



Ill 

of more recent occurrence, in which some of the vassals 
of Montezuma had surprised and slain a party of 
Spaniards, who relied upon their hospitality. These 
were artfully woven into a tale of imaginary wrongs, 
for which he boldly pretended to claim instant redress, 
or rather security against their repetition. 

The monarch was thunderstruck at the charge, 
while he, as well as the few attendants that remained 
near his person, with difficulty restrained the expression 
of their indignation at the disrespectful tone of the 
address, so unlike that to which the royal ears were 
accustomed. He peremptorily denied the charge. But 
Cortez was not to be foiled thus. He knew that he had 
now gone too far to retract, and that the change of feel- 
ing now produced would ensure his speedy destruction, 
if he failed of securing the object of the present inter- 
view. He, therefore, repeated the charge, assuring the 
monarch that such was the belief of all his men, and 
that nothing would convince them of his innocence, or 
make them willing to rest quietly in the capital, but the 
consent of the king to transfer his residence, for a time, 
to their quarters. And this he boldly demanded of him, 
in the name of their common sovereign, the great king 
of Castile, and he could not refuse obedience, without 
breaking allegiance with him. 

" When was it ever known," exclaimed the asto- 
nished and offended king," that the monarch of a great 
people voluntarily left his own palace, to become a 
prisoner in the camp of a foreign nation. If I should 
consent to such indignity, my own subjects would every 
where cry out against it, and a storm would be raised, 
which could only be hushed when the last Spaniard 



112 OFFENDED PRIDE, AND BRAZEN IMPUDENCE. 

was sacrificed to the outraged honor of their king, and 
the wrath of their offended gods." 

" No, my imperial lord," replied the politic and 
smooth tongued knight, " your majesty entirely misap- 
prehends my meaning, and the position in which I 
would place you. I only propose a temporary removal 
from one of your royal palaces to another, a thing of 
frequent occurrence, and therefore not likely to excite 
remark among your people. You can bring all your 
household and your court with you, and have the same 
royal attendance, as you now do. This show of confi- 
dence and regard, on your part, will inspire my men 
with new confidence in your kind intentions, and give 
stability in the eyes of your own people, to the friendly 
relations existing between us." 

Montezuma still protested that it was unworthy the 
dignity and majesty of the sovereign lord of Anahuac, 
thus to submit his motions to the direction of strangers, 
as it was a daring presumption and impiety, on their 
part, to suggest it. He therefore, peremptorily declined 
the proposal, and requested the general to say no more 
about it, if he would retain the position he now held in 
his regard, and that of his people. 

Upon this, the iron-souled Castilian assumed a loftier 
aspect, and a bolder tone, and abruptly assured the 
monarch that it was a point he was not at liberty to 
dispense with. If he would not remove peaceably and 
quietly to the Spanish quarters, he must be carried 
there forcibly, though it should involve a struggle that 
should drench the palace in blood, and sacrifice the life 
of every man in his army. 

Suddenly, the spirit of the monarch was gone. His 



INDIGNATION OP THE NOBLES PORTENTOUS OMEN. 113 

old dread of the white man revived in all its power. 
He felt himself compelled by his destiny, to do as he 
was required. Signifying his assent to the haughty 
demand of the stranger, he ordered his nobles to make 
ready his palanquin, that he might go in royal state 3 
and not appear in the eyes of his subjects, as he passed 
along, as a prisoner in his own capital. 

With looks of astonishment, not unmingled with 
indignation, the proud chiefs obeyed, marching under 
their royal burden, with solemn pace and downcast 
looks, in utter silence, but nursing in their hearts an 
implacable hatred against the insulting Castilians, and 
a burning rage, which was yet to burst upon their 
devoted heads in an overwhelming storm of wrath. As 
they passed the threshold of the imperial palace, which 
their once proud but now humbled lord was never to 
recross, they heaved a deep sigh, as if the dark sha- 
dows of the future already hung frowningly over their 
heads. It was responded >to by a deep, mysterious, 
sepulchral groan, which seemed to issue from the very 
heart of the earth, while, at the same instant, a royal 
eagle, sailing proudly over the capital, struck by an 
invisible leaden messenger from one of the sure-sighted 
marksmen in the Castilian camp, fluttered in his lofty 
flight, drooped his strong wing, and, with a terrible 
death shriek, the blood streaming freely from his 
wound, fell into the court, at the very feet of the royal 
procession. 

The fate of Montezuma, and of his empire, was now 
sealed. He had, with his own hand, taken the crown 
from his head, and laid it at the feet of the Spaniard. 
And, more than all, he had humbled himself in the 

10* 



114 DISTRESS IN THE PALACE. 

eyes of his own subjects, and diminished, though few 
were hardy enough to avow it, the profound respect and 
reverence with which they were accustomed to regard 
him. To his own immediate household, he had repre- 
sented this removal as a voluntary act of courtesy, on 
his part, designed to compliment the strangers, by 
becoming, for a time, their guest, and to inspire them, 
by his personal presence among them, with confidence 
in his professions of regard, as well as to show his own 
people how strong the bond of amity was between 
them. At the same time, however, that he assured 
them of his personal safety and his confidence that 
•all would end well, he recommended his wives 
and children to leave him, for the present, and take 
up their abode in his rural mountain palace at Cha- 
poltepec. 

The timid and sensitive Tecuichpo was thrown into 
the deepest distress by this suggestion. She could not 
doubt the repeated assurances of her royal father, and 
yet she could not divest herself of the sad impression 
that his liberty, and perhaps his life, was in danger, in 
thus separating himself from the strong arms and 
devoted hearts of his own people, his natural protectors, 
and throwing himself, unarmed, into the garrison of 
the fearful strangers. What security could she have 
that he would ever return, or that violence would not 
be offered to his sacred person by those who looked 
upon him only as the vassal of their own sovereign, to 
be used for his purposes and theirs, as their own sel- 
fishness and rapacity might dictate. 

" Leave us not, my dear father," she exclaimed, " or 
at least compel not us to leave you. Rather in dark- 



THE PARTING. 115 

ness and in trouble than at any other time, would we 
stand at your side, to administer, as far as we may, to 
your comfort, and to share, and perhaps lighten, your 
sorrows." 

" Nay, my beloved child," the grateful monarch 
calmly replied, " I have no need, at this time, of your 
solace, or your counsel. I go among friends, who 
respect my person and my authority, and who well 
know that their own safety in Tenochtitlan, depends 
entirely upon retaining my friendship, which alone can 
shield them from being overwhelmed, and swept away 
like chaff, before the countless hosts of my warrior 
bands. Why then should I fear for myself. But for 
you, and your mother, and your sisters, the camp of the 
strangers is not a fitting place for you. They have 
customs of their own, and are slow to recognize the pro- 
priety of ours, deeming us, as they do, an inferior race 
of beings. They are bold and free in their manners, 
quite too much so for the refined delicacy of an Aztec 
maiden, or an Aztec matron, as you yourself both saw 
and felt, at the festival of their reception. How shall I 
expose you to the rude gaze of these foreign cavaliers, 
and perhaps to the rude speeches of their soldiers. No, 
my beloved, go to your retirement at Chapoltepec, and 
train the flowers there for my coming, which will be at 
the approaching festival of the new moon." 

" But will you certainly come to us then, my dear 
father ? Karee says " 

" Trouble me not with the dreams of Karee, my 
sweet child. They are not always as loyal as they 
should be. I believe I am right in what I am now 
doing, and I cannot be diverted from it by the mystic 



116 GUATIMOZIN LEAVES THE CAPITAL. 

night visions of your favorite. Go, and the gods be 
with you." 

So saying, he tore himself from her embrace, and' 
returned to his own apartments to attire himself for the 
removal. 

The fiery, high spirited Guatimozin was so disgusted 
with this act of suicidal cowardice, on the part of his 
royal master, that he withdrew at once from the city, 
taking with him his servants and retainers, as well as 
his immense private treasures, and took up his abode at 
his country palace or castle, where he lived in all the 
pseudo-regal state and magnificence of a feudal baron, 
or a petty sovereign. Here he opened a correspond- 
ence with a large number of the principal nobles of the 
realm, who, like him, felt that the time had come to 
prepare for a terrible crisis. They concerted no mea- 
sures, for they dared not move openly without the com- 
mand or assent of their master ; but they exchanged 
sentiments, and encouraged each other in their patriotic 
purpose, to defend their country from subjugation to a 
foreign foe, and their altars from desecration. 

Passing Chapoltepec on his way, the noble Prince 
sought an interview with his lovely mistress, to inform 
her that, while the pledge he had given, in accepting 
the proffered rose, over the sparkling fountain of 
Tenochtitlan, should be sacredly regarded, he must be 
allowed to see with his own eyes, when danger was 
near, and to raise his arm in her defence, and in that 
of his country, from whatever quarter the threatened 
danger might come. He found her, bathed in tears, 
wandering wildly up and down, amid the shade of the 
tall cypresses that overhang and almost bury that 



MEETS TECUICHPO AT CHAPOLTEPEC. 117 

mountain retreat. Her raven hair had escaped from 
its pearl-studded band, and was flying loosely in the 
breeze ; the wonted bloom was gone from her cheek, 
and the brilliant lustre of her dark flashing eye had 
given way to a sad and subdued expression, which 
was more in keeping with the uniform mildness and 
gentleness of her spirit. Separated from her adored 
parent, and banished from the city of her love and her 
pride, she began to feel more deeply than she had ever 
done, the terror of those dark omens which had clouded 
her destiny, and marked her out as the doomed Prin- 
cess of Anahuac. While she could cling to her father, 
and feel that she was to share all that might befal him, 
and perhaps, by sharing it, extract some portion of the 
bitterness from the cup which he was compelled to 
drink, she was calm and hopeful. But now, the sheet- 
anchor of her soul was gone, and she was drifting, at 
the mercy of the waves, she knew not whither. 

" My sweet cousin," said Guatimozin gently, as he 
arrested her flying step, " why this sudden abandon- 
ment to grief and despair. Dark as the clouds may be 
over our heads, all is not lost. Know you not, my 
love, that ten thousand times ten thousand brave 
hearts and strong arms are pledged, by every bond of 
loyalty and love, to rush to the rescue, the moment 
that any violence is offered to the sacred person of 
our lord. Be assured not a hair of his head shall be 
touched." 

" Ah ! my brave Guatimozin ! I know full well your 
courage and your zeal. But of what avail to us will 
be the direst vengeance your arms can wreak on the 
strangers, after the violence is done, and the honored 



118 COURAGEOUS HOPES. 

head of my father — oh ! that I should live to speak it ! 
— laid low at their feet ! " 

" Fear not, my beloved, they dare not, with all their 
boasted power, they dare not lay a rude hand upon that 
sacred person. They know, they feel, that they are 
treading on a mighty volcano, that may burst out 
at any moment, and overwhelm them in hopeless 
destruction. It is this sense of impending danger only 
that has induced them to invite the Emperor to their 
quarters, and so to urge their suit, that he could not, 
as their professed friend, deny it. While he is there, 
they will feel safe, for his hand alone can stay the pent 
up fires, that they break not forth at once. Fear not. 
I go to-night to Iztapalapan, to confer with your royal 
uncle, the intrepid Cuitlahua. The noble Cacama 
joins us there, convinced already that his was a mis- 
taken policy, when he counselled your father to receive 
the strangers courteously, and treat them as friends." 

" And what can Cacama do ?" 

" That is yet to be seen. He is convinced of his 
error, and is ready to atone for it with his life. With 
Cacama, with Cuitlahua, with a thousand more like 
them — chiefs who never feared danger, and never 
knew defeat — why should we despair, or even doubt?" 

" Bat how know you, Guatimozin, that these Cas- 
tilian strangers regard their own safety as any way 
involved in that of Montezuma ? " 

" I gathered it from the oracle, my love, and from 
omens which never deceive." 

" What oracle ? What omens ? I pray you ex- 
plain?" 

" The omens were their own troubled looks and 






TIMIDITY MADE BOLD. 119 

clouded brows, while this strange negotiation was 
pending, and the guarded watchfulness, with which 
they now protect their guest, and prevent the intrusion 
upon his privacy of any considerable number of his 
friends, at the same time." 

" Prince Guatimozin, do I understand the import of 
those terrible words? Is my father already a prisoner 
in his own palace ? " 

"What else, my sweet cousin, seeing he cannot 
come forth, if he would, and we can only approach 
him by permission ? " 

" O ye gods ! has it come to this ? Fly, Guatimozin. 
Fly to Iztapalapan. I release you from your pledge, 
Sound the alarm throughout the realm. And, if need 
be, / will arm, and with you to the rescue." 

" Not so fast, brave princess ; it is just this rashness 
that may endanger the precious head we would rescue. 
His life is safe at present ; let us not put it to hazard, 
by moving too soon, or striking a useless blow." 

" But I see not yet, my dear cousin, how it is ascer- 
tained that my father is secure from further outrage. 
May it not be their policy to take away the head, 
hoping thus to dishearten and distract our people, and 
make them an easy prey to their victorious arms." 

" If so, they know not the spirit of the Aztec. To a 
man, throughout these broad realms, they would shed 
their last drop, to avenge the foul sacrilege, nor rest in 
their work of vengeance, till every altar in the land 
was drenched in the blood of the captive foe. But you 
forget that I have oracle as well as omen to sustain my 
faith." 

" What oracle has condescended, at last, to give us 



i20 ARE THE GODS TREACHEROUS ? 

light ? I thought they had all been silent, not deign- 
ing, since the advent of these mysterious strangers, any 
response to our prayers." 

" Karee is never deaf, or silent, where the welfare of 
Tecuichpo is concerned." 

" Karee ? " 

" Yes, love, Karee ! I want no better or more trusty 
oracle. She has, you know, a sort of ubiquity. No- 
thing escapes her keen observation. Few mysteries 
are too deep for her sagacity to unravel. In her brief 
occasional encounters with the strangers, she has 
gathered the meaning of not a few of the words of their 
strange tongue. What she has once heard she never 
forgets. Presuming that no one could understand 
them, they have talked freely and boldly in her pre- 
sence. And it is from her that I learn, that the Cas- 
tilian general said to one of his officers, as he. crossed 
the court yard, this morning — i While we have the 
Emperor with us, we are safe. We must see to it, he 
does not escape.' " 

" Escape 1 " shrieked the agitated Princess ; " then he 
is indeed a prisoner. But these white men are gods, 
are the gods treacherous 1 " 

" The gods of the deep are all treachery, but not 
those of the blue fields and bright stars above us. But, 
be they gods from below, or gods from above, they are 
not the gods of Anahuac, nor shall they claim a foot of 
its soil, till it is drenched with the blood of the Aztec. 
Farewell. Fear not. I will yet see you return in 
triumph to the imperial halls of Tenochtitlan." 



HAPTEE VII. 



TREACHERY AND RETRIBUTION MASSACRE OF THE AZTEC 

NOBILITY. DEATH OF MONTEZUMA. 

^totJ bloottg treason triumph. 

jFeelfnjj tiles not fig t!)e fenlfe; 
2Tf)at cuts at once anti fcllls ; Its tortureti strife 
£s toft!) tilstlileTi affliction, crop ug tirop 
0onnQ It's oltterness. ©ur tooriH is rife 
3TOf) jjrfef anti sorroto ; all tfjat toe tooultr prop, 
©r tooultt ue propped toltf), falls ; tofjere sfjall tie ruin stop 1 

Passing lightly over some of the subsequent incidents 
of this stirring period, we must hasten to the catas- 
trophe of our long drawn tale. 

Secure in the possession of his royal prisoner, Cortez 
now thought he might safely leave the capital, for a 
while, and respond to a demand which pressed urgently 
upon him, to relieve his little colony at Vera Cruz, 
threatened with destruction, not by the natives, but a 
new band of adventurers from Spain, who had come to 
dispute the spoils with the conquerors. Leaving one 
of his principal officers in command, with a part of the 
forces, he placed himself at the head of the remainder, 
and marched quietly off on his new expedition. 

11 



122 THE FESTIVAL TERRIBLE MASSACRE. 

Alvarado was a brave knight, but of a rash and 
headlong disposition, and utterly destitute of that cool 
prudence and far-seeing sagacity which was requisite 
for so important a station. He soon involved himself 
in a most wicked and unjust quarrel with the Aztecs, 
which had well nigh overwhelmed him and his dimi- 
nished band in utter ruin. 

Not long after the departure of Cortez, one of the great 
national festivals of the Aztecs occurred, at which the 
flower of the nobility, not of Tenochtitlan alone, but of 
all the neighboring cities and towns, were present. They 
came only to the peaceful performance of the wonted 
rites of their religion, and consequently came unarmed. 
Their numbers were very great. They were all appa- 
relled in the richest costume of their country. Their 
snow white vestments, their splendid mantles of feather- 
work, powdered all over with jewels ; their sandals of 
gold or silver, and their gaudy head-dresses of many- 
colored plumes, made an imposing and magnificent 
display, as they moved in solemn procession, to the 
simple music of their shells and horns, towards the 
court yard of the great Teocalli, where the festival was 
to be celebrated. The immense area was thronged; 
with the gay multitude of worshippers, who, unsuspi- 
cious of treachery, gave themselves up to the wild 
dances and all the customary evolutions of Indian fes- 
tivity. In the midst of their solemn sports, Alvarado 
with his band of armed followers, rushed in, like so man 
tigers let loose upon their prey, and put them to a 
indiscriminate slaughter. Scarce one of that gay com 
pany escaped the ruthless massacre. The holy place 
was drenched with the best blood of Anahuac, and 



: 



ALVARADO IN PERIL. 123 

mourning, desolation, and wo were carried into all the 
principal families in the land. 

It was a fearful stroke, and fearfully was it repaid 
upon the heads of the guilty murderers. On every side 
the cry of vengeance arose, and its hoarse murmurs 
came rolling in upon the capital, like the distant howl- 
ings of a gathering tempest. Myriads of outraged 
Aztecs, smarting and chafing under their wounds, and 
thirsting for a worthy revenge, thronged the avenues 
to the capital, and demanded the treacherous strangers 
to be offered in sacrifice to their offended gods. Guati- 
mozin, and many other brave, powerful, fearless chiefs 
were there, eager to seize the opportunity to chastise 
the insolent intruder. Day after day, they stormed the 
quarters of the beleaguered foe, pouring in upon them 
vollies of arrows, darts and stones, that sorely discom- 
fited, though it could not dislodge them. Every assail- 
able point was so well guarded by those terrible engines 
of destruction, the fire-belching artillery, that the assail- 
ants, numerous as they were, and spurred on by an 
ungovernable rage, could make but little impression 
upon them. Nevertheless, they would inevitably have 
carried the defences, and swept away the little band of 
ruthless murderers, had not Montezuma interposed, and 
besought them, for his sake, to desist from their hostile 
attacks. From regard to his safety, they suspended 
their active operations, but did not relinquish their 
settled purpose of vengeance. 

One means of annoyance was left to them, which 
would soon have reduced the fortress to submission, 
had not an unexpected succor arrived. All supplies 
were cut off from the camo, — already famine began to 



124 RETURN OF CORTEZ. 

stare them in the face, and relax the iron sinew and 
with it the iron will, of the haughty Castilian. They 
were beginning to be reduced to extremities. A few 
days more, and the undefended garrison would have 
fallen into the hands of those merciless avengers of 
blood, who would have doomed every individual to the 
sacrifice. 

At this critical juncture, the all powerful, invincible 
Cortez returned, his forces greatly increased by the 
accession of the very band that had been sent against 
him — Narvaez, who had been commissioned to dis- 
place him, having become his friend, and arrayed him- 
self, with his whole company and munitions of war, 
under his banner. Hearing of the disastrous position 
of his friends in the capital, he hastened with rapid 
strides and forced marches to their relief. His progress 
was unimpeded by any hostilities on the part of Aztecs, 
or their allies, till he entered the city, and joined his 
forces with those of Alvarado in the beleaguered citadel. 
It seems to have been the purpose of the chiefs to per- 
mit a free ingress of the entire force of the enemy, pre- 
ferring rather to shut them up to famine there, than 
to meet them in the open field. 

No sooner was the General, with his augmented 
army, enclosed within the walls of the fortress, than 
active and fearful demonstrations of the roused and 
unappeasable spirit of the people began to be made. 
The streets and lanes of the city, which were silent and 
deserted as he passed through them to his quarters, 
began to swarm with innumerable multitudes of war- 
riors, as if the stones, and the very dust of the earth, 
were suddenly transformed into armed men, The flat 



THE AZTEC ROUSED TO REVENGE. 125 

roofs of their temples and dwellings were covered on 
every side with fierce wild figures, frantic with rage, 
who taunted the Spaniards with their cruel treachery, 
and threatened them, in the most violent language, 
with a terrible revenge. "You are now again in our 
power," they cried, " and you cannot escape. Shut up 
in your narrow quarters, you are doomed to the linger- 
ing tortures of famine, and wo to the traitorous Aztec, 
that furnishes a morsel to relieve your hunger. When, 
at length, the faintness of death overtakes you, and you 
can no longer offer resistance to our arms, we will again 
spread the tables in your prison-house, and fatten you 
for the sacrifice." 

No longer restrained by their reverence for Monte- 
zuma, whose pusillanimity had been the cause of all 
his and their troubles, they recommenced their active 
operations, and stormed the defences with an energy 
and perseverance that was truly appalling. Day after 
day they deluged the place with arrows and missiles 
of every kind, which fell in pitiless showers upon the 
heads of the beseiged, till scarcely one wasjeft without 
some wound or bruise. In vain did they apply, as 
before, to their royal prisoner, to appease the rage of his 
subjects, and induce them once more to send them the 
customary supplies. In moody silence he shut himself 
up in his room, brooding over the ingratitude and 
treachery of Cortez, and the injuries and insults he had 
received at his hand. 

Exasperated by this sudden reversal of his schemes 
of conquest, and maddened by the sense of hunger 
which began to be severely felt in his camp, Cortez 
resolved to strike terror into the ranks of the besiegers, 

11* 



126 DESPERATE SORTIE. 

by a vigorous sortie at the head of all his cavalry. 
First sweeping the avenue by a well directed fire from 
his heavy guns, which were planted at the main 
entrance of the fortress, he rushed out, with all his 
steel clad cavaliers, trampling the unprotected assail- 
ants under the iron hoofs of the horses, and. dealing 
death on every side. The mighty mass gave way 
before the terrific charge of the advancing column, but 
immediately closed in upon its rear as it passed, till it 
was completely swallowed up in an interminable sea 
of fierce and angry foes, whose accumulating waves 
swept in from every avenue, and threatened to sweep 
them all away, in despite of the fury and power of their 
dreaded chargers. Convinced of his danger, the intrepid 
Castilian wheeled his horse about, and with a furious 
shout, called on his brave band to break a way through 
the serried ranks of the enemy. Plunging, rearing and 
leaping, under the double spur of the rider, and the 
piercing shafts of his foe, the fiery animals broke in 
upon the living wall that impeded their way, and 
rushed fiercely on, trampling down hundreds in their 
path, till they regained the open avenue, that was 
defended by their own artillery. It was not without 
serious loss, however, that this retreat was achieved. 
The fierce Aztecs threw themselves upon the horses, in 
the crowd, hanging upon their legs, sometimes inflict- 
ing serious wounds upon them, and sometimes grap- 
pling with their riders, dragging them from their saddles, 
and carrying off to captivity or sacrifice. At the 
same time, they were sorely beset by showers of 
stones and darts that poured upon their heads from 
every building as they passed, battering and breaking 



THE ASTEC LEADERS. 127 

their armor, and terribly bruising both the horse and 
his rider. 

These sorties were several times repeated, but always 
with the same doubtful success. The loss of the Span- 
iards was always much less than that of their enemy. 
But the latter could better afford to lose a thousand, 
than the former to lose one. Their ranks were instantly 
replenished with fresh combatants, who crowded in 
upon the scene of conflict, like the countless thousands 
of the over-peopled North, that swarmed upon the fair 
fields of Italy, as if some used-up world had been sud- 
denly emptied of its inhabitants. Their numbers 
seemed rather to increase than to diminish with every 
new onset. In the same proportion their fierce resolu- 
tion increased. 

The haughty Spaniard was now convinced that he 
had wholly mistaken the character of the people, whom 
he had thought to trample down at his pleasure. A 
spirit, was raised which could not be laid, either by 
persuasion or by force. He saw and felt his danger, 
without the power to avert it. At length, either by 
threats or entreaties, or both, he prevailed on the cap- 
tive Montezuma once more to interpose in his behalf, 
by employing what authority remained to him against 
his own best friends and faithful subjects. 

The Aztecs, forsaken of their monarch, had bold and 
talented leaders, who were competent both to devise 
and to execute the measures deemed necessary for the 
public good, and to lead on their marshalled hosts, to 
battle and to victory. Cacama, the young Prince 
of Tezcuco, burning to retrieve his fatal error in 
counselling and aiding the friendly reception of the 



128 CORTEZ ATTEMPTS TO DISPERSE THEM. 

Spaniards, now joined all his resources with those of 
Cuitlahua and Guatimozin, in endeavoring to recover 
the ground they had lost. Their first object was, to 
rescue the Emperor from his inglorious imprisonment, 
never doubting that, with his sacred person at their 
head, they would be able to annihilate the treacherous 
intruders at a blow. 

Not far from the city of Tezcuco, and standing out 
on the bosom of the lake, several hundred yards from 
the shore, was a solitary castle of a heavy and sombre 
architecture, built upon piles, at such an elevation as to 
be above the influence of any extraordinary swell in 
the waters of the lake. Consequently, when at its ordi- 
nary level, boats could pass freely under. At this place 
the princes were accustomed to meet for private delibe- 
ration. 

Cortez was informed of these meetings, and knew 
too well the effect of the counsels there matured, not to 
wish them broken up. With a boldness of design 
peculiar to himself, he resolved to make Montezuma 
the instrument of their destruction. He represented to 
that monarch the danger to his own interests, of allow- 
ing such a junto of able and ambitious men to assume 
the guidance of the public affairs, and undertake to 
direct the movements of the people. " What can they 
do more," he craftily exclaimed, " but assume the reins 
of government, under the specious pretence, which they 
now falsely set up, that their king is deprived of his 
freedom to act, and therefore no longer a king. If, 
now, you would save your sceptre and your crown, 
assert at once your imperial prerogative — show them 
you have still the power to speak and to act — command 



CACAMA SUMMONED HIS REPLY. 129 

them, on pain of your royal displeasure, to lay down 
their arms, desist from their treasonable assemblages, 
and repair at once to your court, to answer for their 
unloyal designs." 

Misled by false representations of the facts, and 
deceived by the specious arguments of the Spaniard, 
Montezuma despatched a message to the lord of Tez- 
cuco, under the great seal of the empire, which it was 
high treason to disregard, commanding him instantly 
to appear before his master, to answer for his irregular 
and ill-advised proceedings. Cacama was too well 
aware of the real position of Montezuma, and of the 
constraint under which he acted, to give any heed to 
his mandate. 

" Tell my royal master," he replied, " that I am too 
much his friend to obey him in this instance. Let him 
banish the false-hearted Spaniards from his capital, the 
vipers whom he has taken to his bosom — let him 
ascend once more his imperial throne, not as a vassal, 
but as the rightful lord of all these realms, and Cacama 
will joyfully lay his crown, his life, his all, at his feet. 
Montezuma is my master when he is master of himself. 
To that dignity we intend to restore him, or perish in 
the attempt." 

On the evening of the fourth day after the return of 
the royal messenger, with this spirited reply of Cacama, 
a light pirogue, guided by a single hand, its sole occu- 
pant, might have been seen gliding silently over the 
Lake to the water-palace, the chosen rendezvous of 
the patriot princes. By the proud and majestic bearing 
of the boatman, it could be no other than Guatimozin. 
Securing his skiff by a cord passed through the fingers 



130 THE RENDEZVOUS THE WARNING. 

of a gigantic hand, curiously carved from the jutting 
rafters on which the floor of the palace was laid, he 
ascended the steps to the hall, which he found unoccu- 
pied and still. He was presently joined by Cuitlahua 
and Cacama, arriving from different directions, in the 
same stealthy manner. Their number was soon in- 
creased by the arrival of four Tezcucan lords, from 
whom some important communications were expected. 
Scarcely had they entered the hall, and seated them- 
selves, when, a slight noise from without attracting his 
attention, Guatimozin rose, and went towards the door, 
to ascertain the cause. 

" It is only the chafing of our pirogues against the 
piles," said one of the new comers — " let us proceed to 
business." 

Guatimozin, true to his own impulses, heeded not the 
remark. Stepping upon the outer battlement, he dis- 
cerned a slight figure in a canoe, moving in the shadow 
of the building, and apparently seeking concealment. 
Supposing it might be a servant, left by the Tezcucans 
in charge of their boats, he was about returning, when 
a gentle voice whispered his name. 

" Who calls Guatimozin?" he replied in a whisper, 
at the same time leaning towards the intruder. 

" Beware of the Tezcucans, beware." The voice 
was Karee's, but the skiff shot away, like an arrow, 
before the Prince had time for further parley. 

Returning to the council, he instantly demanded, as 
if nothing had happened, that the plans of the evening 
should be laid open. 

A pictured scroll was then produced by the Tezcu- 
cans, representing the contemplated movements of the 



THE ESCAPE. 131 

enemy, which they professed to have ascertained from 
authentic sources, and delineating a plan of operations 
against them. Guatimozin, somewhat bewildered by 
the warning he had received, sat down with his friends 
to the examination of this scroll. But, while seemingly 
intent upon that alone, he contrived to keep a close 
watch upon the movements of the Tezcucans. It was 
soon evident that their thoughts were not wholly 
engrossed by the business before them. A slight noise 
from without, followed instantly by an exchange of 
significant looks between two of the party, confirmed 
his suspicions. Instantly dashing away the false scroll, 
and springing to his feet, he boldly charged the traitors 
with a conspiracy, and demanded an immediate expla- 
nation. Alarmed at this mysterious and premature dis- 
closure of their designs, the chief of the party, without 
venturing a word of reply, gave a shrill, piercing whis- 
tle, which was immediately responded to from without. 
Finding himself entrapped, and not knowing what 
numbers he might have to contend with, Guatimozin 
sprang to the door, stretching one of the conspirators on 
the floor as he passed, and succeeded in reaching his 
skiff, just as a band of armed men rushed in from the 
other quarter. Cuitlahua also effected his escape, 
though not without a desperate encounter with one of 
the advancing party, who attempted to arrest his flight. 
To seize his antagonist with a powerful embrace, to 
fling him over the parapet into the water, and to plunge 
in after him, was the work of an instant. Swimming 
under water for some distance, and rising to the surface 
within the shadow of the building, he took possession 
of the nearest canoe, and, following in the wake of 



132 CACAMA AND CUITLAHUA ARRESTED. 

Guatimozin, was soon out of the reach of danger, or 
pursuit. 

Cacama, unsuspicious of danger, and intent only on 
the object of their meeting, was so engrossed with the 
scroll, and the plans delineated upon it, that he did not 
fully comprehend the meaning of this sudden interrup- 
tion of their council, until his two friends had disap- 
peared, and, in their place, a band of twenty armed 
men stood before him. Resistance was vain. By 
order of the chief of the conspirators, he was seized, 
securely bound, and carried a prisoner to Tenochtitlan. 
There, though treated with indignity by Cortez, and 
with severity by Montezuma, he maintained a haughty 
and independent bearing, sternly refusing to yield, in 
the slightest degree, to the insolent dictation of the one, 
or the pusillanimous policy of the other. Cuitlahua 
was afterwards seized in his own palace of Iztapala- 
pan ; but, after a short detention, was released again, at 
the instigation of Montezuma. 

These outrages, so far from intimidating the people, 
only excited and incensed them the more, and led to 
other and more desperate assaults upon the beleaguered 
foe, till Cortez, apprehensive of ultimate defeat and 
ruin, applied once more to Montezuma, proposing that 
he should appear in person before his people, and 
require them to lay down their arms, retire to their 
homes, and leave his guests in peaceable possession of 
the quarters he had voluntarily assigned them. 

Arrayed in his royal robes, with the imperial diadem 
upon his head, preceded by his officers of state, bearing 
the golden wands, the emblem of despotic power, and 
accompanied by a considerable train of his own nobles, 



MONTEZUMA ADDRESSING HIS PEOPLE. 133 

and some of the principal Castilian cavaliers, the unfor- 
tunate monarch appeared on the battlements, to remon- 
strate with his own people for their zeal in the defence 
of his crown and honor, and appease the rage of his 
subjects for insults offered to his own person, and to 
those of his loyal nobles. His presence was instantly 
recognized by the thronging multitudes below and 
around. Some prostrated themselves on the earth in 
profound reverence, some bent the knee, and all waited 
in breathless silence .to hear that voice, which had so 
long ruled them with despotic sway. 

With a sad, but at the same time a calm and digni- 
fied tone, the monarch addressed them, " My children," 
said he, " why are you here in this fierce array. The 
strangers are my friends. I abide with them as their 
voluntary guest, and all that you do against them is 
done against me, your sovereign and father." 

When the monarch declared himself the friend of the 
detested Spaniard, a murmur of discontent and rage 
arose, and ran through the assembled host. Their 
ungovernable fury burst at once the barrier of loyalty, 
and vented itself in curses upon the king who could, in 
the hour of their peril, thus basely forsake his people, 
and endeavor to betray them into the hands of a 
treacherous and blood thirsty foe. " Base Aztec ! " 
they cried, " woman ! coward ! go back to the viper 
friends whom you have taken to your bosom. No longer 
worthy to reign over us, we cast away our allegiance 
for ever." At the same moment, some powerful arm, 
more fearless than the rest, aimed a huge stone at the 
unprotected head of the king, which brought him sense- 
less to the ground. His attendants, put off their guard 

12 



134 MONTEZUMA MORTALLY WOUNDED. 

by the previous calm and reverential attention of the 
crowd, were taken by surprise. In vain they inter- 
posed their shields and bucklers, to protect his person 
from further violence. The fatal blow was struck. 
The great Montezuma had received his death-wound 
from the hand of one of his own subjects, who, but a 
moment before, would have sacrificed a hundred lives, 
had he possessed them, to shield the person of his mon- 
arch from violence and dishonor. 

The effect of this unexpected catastrophe seemed 
equally appalling to both the belligerent parties. The 
Aztecs, struck aghast at their own sacrilegious deed, 
dispersed in sorrow and shame to their homes ; while 
the Spaniards felt that they had lost their only remain- 
ing hold upon the forbearance and regard of a mighty 
people, whose confidence they had shamefully abused, 
and whose altars and houses they had wantonly dese- 
crated. It was a season of agonizing suspense. To 
retreat from their post, and abandon the conquest which 
they once imagined was nearly achieved, might be as 
disastrous as it would be humiliating. To remain in 
their narrow quarters, surrounded with countless thou- 
sands of exasperated foes, on whom they must be 
dependent for their daily supplies of food, seemed little 
better than madness. To the proud spirit of the 
haughty Castilian, the alternative was scarcely less to 
be dreaded than martyrdom. It was manifestly, how- 
ever, the only resource, and he resolved to evacuate the 
city. 

Meanwhile, active hostilities had been temporarily 
suspended. The unhappy Montezuma, smitten even 
more severely in heart than in person, refused alike the 



DEATH OF MONTEZUMA. 135 

condolence of his friends and the skill of the Castilian 
surgeon. Tearing off the bandages from his wounds, 
" leave me alone," he cried, " I have already outlived 
my honor and the affection and confidence of my peo- 
ple. Why should I look again upon the sun or the 
earth. The one has no light, the other no dowers for 
me. Let me die here. I feel indeed that the gods 
have smitten me, when I fall by the hand of one of my 
own people." 

In this disconsolate mood, the spirit of Montezuma 
took its flight. In vain did the Castilian general 
endeavor to suppress, for a time, the tidings of his 
death. The loud wailing of his attendants, would 
have published it far and wide among the thousands 
of affectionate hearts, that listened for every sound that 
issued from the palace, if they had not, unknown to 
the Spaniards, established a kind of telegraphic signal, 
by means of which they communicated to the priests 
on the great Teocalli, daily reports of the progress of 
his disease. When the sad signal was given, announc- 
ing the solemn fact, that the great Montezuma had laid 
down his honors and his troubles together, it was 
responded to by the mournful tones of the great drum 
of the temple, by ten measured muffled strokes, convey- 
ing the melancholy intelligence to every dwelling in 
Tenochtitlan. 

The breathing of that populous city was now one 
universal wail, that seemed to penetrate the very hea- 
vens. Partly from a sincere regard for the fallen 
monarch, and partly from the hope that he might thus 
conciliate the good will of his afflicted subjects, Cortez 
directed his remains to be placed in a splendid coffin, 



136 FUNERAL OBSEQUIES. 

and borne in solemn procession, by his own nobles, to 
his palace, that it might be interred with the customary 
regal honors. It was received by his people with every 
demonstration of affectionate joy and respect. Con- 
veyed with great pomp to the castle of Chapoltepec, 
followed by an immense train of priests, nobles, and 
common people, it Avas interred amid all the imposing 
ceremonies of the Aztec religion. His wives and 
children, frantic with grief, gathered around those hal- 
lowed remains, and testified, by all those tender and 
delicate tokens which seem the natural expression of a 
refined feminine sorrow, their profound sense of the 
inestimable loss they had sustained. 

By one of those singular coincidences, which tend so 
strongly to confirm the too easy credulity of the super- 
stitious, and give an unnatural emphasis to the com- 
mon accidents of life, it was the festival of the new 
moon, the very day on which Montezuma had pro- 
mised Tecuichpo that he would join the household 
circle at Chapoltepec, that his lifeless remains were 
borne thither, in the solemn funereal procession. 

" Alas ! my father," she cried, " is this the fulfilment 
of that only promise which sustained my sinking cou- 
rage in the hour of separation?" She said no more. 
The more profound the sorrow, the fewer words it has 
to* spare. " The shallow murmur, but the deep are 
dumb." 



CHAPTER Till. 



BRIEF REIGN OF CUITLAHUA. EXPULSION OF THE SPAN- 
IARDS. GUATIMOZIN CHOSEN EMPEROR. HIS MARRIAGE 
WITH TECUICHPO. 

^Jrtef Mlotos rjrfet 2T|)e crotoneti fceati 
So late ttie nation's $ope, fa lain 
3Loto tn t|je fcust. 

defeat anti triumph, tears autt smiles, 
SQLtfe, treat!), tr? e fllovg anti ttje fceptfis of sfiame, 
2T|)e funeral pall anti t|)e pure orfTral robe, 
En close prortmitg— 

The sacred dust restored to its native earth, and the 
last hallowed rites performed over the sepulchre of the 
departed, the thoughts of the people were immediately 
turned to the succession. All eyes were fixed on Cuit- 
lahua, the noble brother of Montezuma, whose intre- 
pid spirit, and deadly hatred of the intruding Spaniards, 
accorded with the now universal sentiment of the 
nation. He was elected, without a dissenting voice, by 
the grand council of the nobles. Accepting, with alac- 
rity, the post of responsibility and danger, he was 
immediately inaugurated and crowned, with all the 

12* 



138 CORTEZ EVACUATES THE CAPITAL. 

gorgeous rites, and imposing ceremonies which a pagan 
priesthood delight to throw around every important 
event, in which their holy influence is necessarily 
involved. 

During the progress of these mournful and exciting 
events, the rigors of the siege had not been materially 
relaxed, though all active hostilities had been sus- 
pended. They were now to be renewed with tenfold 
energy, under the lead of their warlike monarch, who 
had often led the armies of Anahuac to victory, and 
who had never known defeat. 

When the Castilian general was informed that the 
heroic Cuitlahua had been placed on the throne of Mon- 
tezuma, and was about to take the field in person, he 
perceived the necessity of adopting prompt and decided 
measures. The retreat had already been resolved on. 
It was now to be put in execution, and that, without 
delay. As it was the custom of the Aztec, to suspend 
all hostilities during the night, Cortez determined to 
avail himself of that season to make his escape. 
Accordingly, every thing being made ready for the 
departure, and the city being hushed in a seemingly 
profound repose, the gates were thrown open, and the 
little army, with its long train of Indian allies, sallied 
stealthily forth, not to the stirring notes of drum or 
trumpet, but with hushed breath and a cautious tread, 
ill accordant with the haughty bearing, and vaunting 
air, with which they had hitherto attempted to lord it 
over the proud metropolis of Anahuac. 

But, though quiet, the sagacious and determined 
Aztec was wide awake. He had anticipated this 
stealthy movement of his pent up foe, and resolved that 



PERILS OF THE RETREAT. 139 

he should not thus escape the snare into which his own 
audacious insolence had drawn him. The last files of 
the retreating army had not yet passed out from their 
entrenchments, when a long loud blast from the horn 
of the great Teocalli, stirred the city to its utmost bor- 
ders, calling out the mighty host, who had slept upon 
their arms, eager for the summons which should bring 
them once more to an engagement with their foe. 

Confident as the Spaniard was in the overwhelming 
power of his cavalry and artillery, he preferred rather 
to make good his retreat, while he could, than to show 
his prowess in these perilous circumstances. The 
hoarse distant murmurs which fell upon their ears at 
every street as they passed, indicated too plainly the 
mustering of a mighty host, which soon came rushing 
in upon them from all quarters, like the swelling surges 
of a stormy sea, each higher and more terrible than 
that which preceded. They fell upon the flying foe 
with the ferocity of tigers, about to be disappointed of 
their prey. From every lane and alley, and from the 
roof of every house, they pelted them with ceaseless 
vollies of stones. They grappled with them, man to 
man, reckless of life or limb, so that they could maim 
or destroy an enemy. 

Alvarado, with a portion of the cavalry, brought up 
the rear of the retreating army, in order to repel, with 
an occasional charge upon the enemy's ranks, those 
furious onsets which might have overwhelmed the 
small body of Spanish infantry, or the unmailed and 
lightly armed Tlascalan allies. The cavalier and his 
horse, encased in armor of proof, could better cope with 
the weapons and missiles of their assailants, while they 



140 THE CONFLICT — AN AWFUL CRISIS, 

often turned upon them, wkh a fierce and irresistible 
charge, trampling hundreds in the dust, and mowing 
down whole ranks on this side and that, with their 
trenchant broadswords. 

In this manner the fugitives denied through the great 
southern avenue, and came out upon the grand cause- 
way, by which they had twice entered the city. Here 
they were met by new and fresh squadrons of the 
enemy, thronging the sides of the dike in their light 
canoes, and showering down arrows thick as hail upon 
the advancing column. Sometimes keeping upon the 
causeway, they would grapple each with his man, and 
drag him off into the water, to be picked up by those in 
the canoes, and hurried off to a terrible and certain fate, 
on the great altar of their War-god. Their numbers 
increased every moment, till the lake was literally alive 
with them. 

At length the advancing column was brought to 
stand ; while a cry of despair from the van revealed 
the fearful position in which they stood in the midst of 
their implacable foes. The bridges which intersected 
the dike had been removed by order of the Emperor. 
They had now reached the first opening thus made in 
the causeway. A sudden shout from the myriads of 
Aztec warriors that hung about them on all sides, told 
at once their own wild triumph, and the awfully peril- 
ous position of their enemy. Crowded together on a 
narrow causeway, in ranks so close as to render their 
arms and their weapons almost entirely useless- — 
arrested in front by a wide chasm which it was impos- 
sible to pass — their retreat cut off in the rear, by the 
living masses that blocked up every avenue, and pressed 



HEMMED IN ON ALL SIDES. 141 

them forward upon the crowded ranks of their com- 
rades — assailed on both sides from the water, through 
the whole length of the closely compacted column — 
while all these dangers were enhanced a hundred-fold 
by the darkness of the night — there seemed no possi- 
bility of escape for one of that brave host. 

Cortez was with the principal part of the cavalry in 
the centre of the column, so wedged in by the com- 
pacted mass of his own forces, as to be quite unable 
either to advance or retreat, without trampling them 
under his feet, or crowding them off the causeway. 
He comprehended in a moment the perilous position he 
was in. But such was the utter confusion and dismay 
of the whole army, and such the horrid din of clashing 
arms, and the yet more horrid yells of the savage foe, 
that he in vain attempted either to direct or encourage 
his men. His voice was drowned in the uproar. 

Sandoval, one of his bravest and most trusty officers, 
who led the van, with a few other cavaliers as bold as 
himself, resolved to push forward at any personal 
hazard, rather than stand still to perish in one confused 
mass, dashed their steeds into the water, and made for 
the other side of the gap. Some succeeded in effecting 
a landing, while others, with their horses, perished in 
the attempt, or fell into the hands of the watchful boat- 
men. The first movement being thus made, an impetus 
was given to the moving column from behind, that 
drove the front ranks, nolens volens, into the breach. 
By far the greater part sank to rise no more, or were 
picked up by the Aztecs, and hurried away to a far 
more terrible death. At length the breach was filled 
up by the bodies of the dead, and the baggage and artil- 



142 CORTEZ IN TEARS ACTIVITY OF CUITLAHUA. 

lery which occupied the centre, so that the rear had a 
clear passage over the fatal chasm. 

A second and a third breach was yet to be passed. 
It was accomplished as before, only by making a bridge 
of the bodies of one half, for the other half to walk upon. 
Meanwhile the enemy hung upon flank and rear, with 
unappeasable rage, striking down and picking up vast 
numbers of victims, until, when «the last breach was 
cleared, and a footing gained upon terra-firma, there 
was scarce a remnant left of the gallant band that 
entered upon that fatal causeway. The iron-hearted 
Cortez was so overcome with the sight of his shattered 
band, and the absence of so many brave comrades, 
when the morning light appeared, that he sat down 
upon a rock that overlooked the scene of desolation, 
and gave vent to his emotions in a flood of tears. 

Had the Mexicans followed up this success by falling 
upon the broken dispirited remnant of the Castilian 
army, they would probably have vanquished and 
destroyed them to a man. They were suffered, how- 
ever, to proceed unmolested for several days, until their 
strength and spirits were somewhat recruited. Then, 
though attacked by immensely superior numbers, they 
succeeded in putting them to rout. 

The new Emperor, Cuitlahua, having signalized his 
accession to the throne by the almost total destruction 
of the formidable foe, who had spread the terror of his 
arms far and wide through all the realms of Anahuac, 
proceeded to fortify his capital and kingdom against 
another invasion. The dikes and canals were thor- 
oughly repaired, the walls were strengthened and 
extended, the army enlarged and improved in discip- 



HIS BRIEF REIGN AND SUDDEN DEATH. 143 

line by some of the lessons which so able a general, 
was not slow to learn from the Spaniards. The 
immense treasures they had drawn from the munificent 
Montezuma, and which, in the disasters of that melan- 
choly night, they had been compelled to leave behind, 
were all recovered and expended in these works of 
defence. Their arms, too, were gathered up, and served 
to improve and render more effective many of the more 
primitive weapons of the Aztecs. In the midst of these 
wise and patriotic efforts to guard against the probable 
return of the Spaniards, Cuitlahua was seized with a 
loathsome disease, which in a few days brought him to 
the grave, after a brief reign of four months. 

This was a terrible blow to the nation. It was felt 
throughout all the borders of Anahuac, as the severest 
frown of their gods. But partially recovered from the 
shock occasioned by the death of Montezuma, they 
were now beginning to feel their hopes renewed, and 
their courage reviving, under the bold and decided 
measures, and the signal successes of their new Empe- 
ror. He was the idol of the army. His intrepid bravery, 
his high military talents, his unyielding patriotism, and 
deadly hatred of the white men, had secured for him 
the confidence of all the wisest and best men of the 
realm, so that, with one heart and one voice, they ral- 
lied around his standard, assured that, under his ener- 
getic sway, the ancient glory and pre-eminence of the 
Aztec crown would be not only ably asserted, but effec- 
tually re-established. 

His fall, like a mighty earthquake, shook the empire 
to its centre. For a moment it seemed as if all was 
lost — hopelessly, irretrievably lost. The long funereal 



144 GUATIMOZIN RAISED TO THE THRONE. 

wail, that swelled up from every dwelling and every 
heart in that devoted land, seemed like the expiring 
groan of a world. But it was only for a moment. The 
first shock past, they found themselves still standing, 
though among ruins. Their land, their temples, their 
dwellings, still remained. Their wise and experienced 
counsellors were all in their midst. Their host of 
armed men were still at their post, unbroken, undivided, 
unappalled. The imperial mantle had not fallen to the 
earth. 

As by immediate direction from heaven, all eyes 
were turned to Guatimozin. He was nephew to the 
last two monarchs, and though only a young man, had 
distinguished himself both in the council and in the 
field. He had uniformly opposed the admission of the 
Spaniards to the capital. He had been prominent in 
all the recent attacks upon their quarters, and had espe- 
cially signalized himself in the terrible overthrow of the 
disastrous night of their retreat. He had all the cool- 
ness and intrepidity of a veteran warrior, with all the 
fire and impetuosity of youth. He was about twenty- 
five years of age, of an elegant commanding figure, and 
so terrible in war that even his followers trembled in 
his presence. 

The young prince felt the extreme difficulty of the 
crisis, but did not shrink from the arduous and perilous 
post assigned him. With a prudence and circumspec- 
tion, only to have been expected from one long accus- 
tomed to the cares and perplexities of government, he 
set himself to fortify every assailable point, and to pre- 
pare for the worst that might arise, in the event of 
another invasion. The works commenced during the 



HIS INTERVIEW WITH THE PRINCESS. 145 

brief reign of Cuitlahua were carried forward to their 
completion. By means of regular couriers and spies, a 
constant communication was kept up with all parts of 
the country. The movements of the Spaniards were 
narrowly watched, and their supposed designs fre- 
quently reported to the Emperor. Nothing was omitted 
which a sagacious and watchful monarch could do or 
devise, to make ready for a severe and protracted con- 
test, in whatever form it might come. 

Thus established on the throne, and strengthened 
against a sudden surprise, the ardent young monarch 
repaired to Chapoltepec, where the bereaved household 
of Montezuma still remained, in sad but peaceful seclu- 
sion, and claimed the hand of the fair Princess 
Tecuichpo. Her retiring disposition would have pre- 
ferred a humbler and more quiet station. She had seen 
enough of the agitations and burdens of a crowned 
head; enough of the gaudy emptiness of life in a 
palace, and longed to hide herself in some sweet, 
sequestered spot, away from the noisy parade and anx- 
ious bustle of a court, where her own home would be 
all her world. 

" Oh ! that that crown had fallen on some other 
head," she exclaimed. " Though there is not another 
in Anahuac so worthy to wear it, not one who would 
so well sustain its ancient glory, yet I would not that 
you should bear the heavy burden, or be exposed to 
that desolating storm that is gathering over our devoted 
capital and throne." 

" Said I not, my beloved, that I would yet lead you 
back in triumph to the royal halls of your ancestors 1 
I have come to redeem my pledge. Shrink not from a 

13 



146 HER TIMIDITY AND HER DEVOTION. 

station which no other can so well adorn. Rather, far 
rather would I, if I could, retire with you to the quiet 
shades of private life, and find a home in some sweet 
glen among the mountains, than wear the crown and 
claim the homage of a world. But, my sweet cousin, 
the crown must be defended, the throne must be sus- 
tained against the insolent pretensions of these stran- 
gers. And / must do my part in the defence. I dare 
not, either as monarch or as subject, withhold myself 
from this great work. If I perish, I fall in the service 
of my country and her altars. And the higher the sta- 
tion I hold, the greater the service I render — the heavier 
the burden I bear, the brighter the honors I shall win. 
As well perish on the throne, as fighting at its foot. I 
should be unworthy of the daughter of Montezuma, if I 
held any thing too dear to sacrifice on the shrine of my 
country." 

" Noble Guatimozin, my heart is yours — my life is 
devoted only to you. Lead me where you will, so that 
1 can share your burdens, and lighten your cares, and 
not prove unworthy of such a father and such a lord. 
But you forget that mine is a doomed life, that oracles 
and omens, signs and presages, have all conspired 
against me from my birth." 

" Nay, my love, it is you that forget, not I. For the 
very oracles and omens that foreshadowed for you a 
clouded morning, promised with equal distinctness a 
bright and glorious evening. The tempestuous morn- 
ing is passed. The glorious mid-day and the golden 
evening are yet to come." 

" You are quite too fast, 1 fear, my brave cousin, it 
was only the evening that was to have light. The 



LOVE LOOKING ON THE BRIGHT SIDE. 147 

sunset hour of life was to be clear. But what, my dear 
Guatimozin, what do you suppose that light is to be ? 
and whence shall it come ? " 

" What can it be, but to restore, in your own person 
and family, the disputed pre-eminence of the Aztec 
dynasty, the tarnished glory of its crown. Rely upon 
it, my gentle cousin, that is your destiny. The timid 
dove of Chapoltepec shall be transformed to the royal 
eagle of Tenochtitlan." 

" That cannot be. I rather fear that the deep cloud 
of my doom will overshadow and darken your life. 
Better far that I should suffer and perish alone." 

" It must be, Tecuichpo, it shall be. Have not the 
gods given you to me ? Have they not made me the 
defender of the Aztec throne ? How then can you doubt 
that they call you to share and adorn it ? " 

" Oh ! my lord ! those terrible omens — they are but 
half fulfilled, and the promised light is yet far in the 
distance. Could I be sure that you would share that 
light with me ." 

" Come then with me to the palace. It will be all 
light for me when you are there, and sure I am that 
time will re-interpret those sad omens for you, and turn 
them all to sunshine." 

Suddenly the palace of Chapoltepec was changed 
from a house of mourning to a house of feasting. The 
nuptial rites of the youthful Emperor with the beautiful 
princess, were celebrated with great pomp. The fes- 
tivities continued through several days, and were hon- 
ored by the presence of all the nobility of the empire. 
The most costly entertainment was provided for the 
numerous guests. The most munificent royal largesses 



148 THE NUPTIAL FESTIVAL. 

were bestowed upon the priests, and upon those who 
took a prominent part in the grand ceremonies, and 
gifts of great value lavishly distributed among all the 
inferior attendants. The brilliant and odoriferous trea- 
sures of the royal gardens, and of the chinampas of the 
great lake were exhausted in adorning the halls and 
chambers of the palace. The refined taste, and 
exquisite invention of Karee was every where appa- 
rent. The place, on the day of the nuptials, might 
have been taken for the realm and palace of Flora. 
The very air was redolent of the incense of flowers, 
which brightened the day with their bloom, and of the 
odoriferous gums, whose blaze extended the reign of 
day far into the realms of night. 

It was a national festival, a season of universal 
rejoicing. The people now believed that their days of 
darkness and temporary depression were passed, and 
that all the power and glory of the days of Montezuma 
would be restored, under those happy auspices which 
made his favorite daughter a sharer of his throne. The 
priests sanctioned and confirmed this belief, to the 
utmost of their power and influence, giving it out, with 
that oracular force and dignity, which they so well 
knew how to assume, that such was the true interpreta- 
tion of all the singular predictions and presages, which 
intimated that the life of the princess would close with 
unusual splendor. In this manner, they encouraged 
the hopes of the nation, confirmed its allegiance to its 
new Emperor, and united all its forces in a solid 
phalanx of resistance to every foreign encroachment. 

When these ceremonies were concluded, and the 
imperial pageant passed from Chapoltepec to the capi- 



GRAND PROCESSION. 149 

tal, there was a new and still more imposing display of 
the reverence and loyalty of this singular people, and 
of the more than oriental magnificence with which they 
sustained the splendors of royalty. The road, through 
the entire distance, was swept, sprinkled, and strewed 
with flowers. The elite of the army, and the nobility 
in the gayest costumes, formed a brilliant and numer- 
ous escort, accompanied with flaunting banners, and 
every species of spirit-stirring music then known to 
Aztecs. The imperial cortege, consisting of a long 
array of magnificent palanquins, with their gorgeous 
canopies of feather-work, all a-blaze with gold and 
jewels, borne on the shoulders of princes and nobles, 
occupied the centre of the grand procession. Those of 
the Emperor and Empress, which moved side by side, 
were distinguished by the exceeding costliness and 
beauty of their decorations, and by the superior height 
of their canopies, whose sides and ends curved grace- 
fully to a point in the centre, about three feet above the 
cornice, which was surmounted by the imperial diadem 
of Mexico. These were followed by the queen mother, 
and other members of the royal household, conveyed in 
a style but little inferior to the first. This cortege was 
immediately preceded and followed by all the priests 
and prophets of the nation, in their splendid pontificals, 
and bearing the showy insignia of their various orders. 
An immense train of the most respectable citizens, mer- 
chants, mechanics, artizans, husbandmen, and men of 
every honorable profession brought up the rear. They 
were scarcely less gay and brilliant in their costume 
than the escort and immediate attendants of the mon- 
arch, though somewhat less uniform in the style of 

13* 



150 WELCOME TO THE CAPITAL. 

their decorations. The road, through its entire length, 
was flanked by women and children, young men and 
maidens, in their gala dresses, with baskets and chap- 
lets of flowers, which they continually showered upon 
the path, in front of the royal palanquins, thus renew- 
ing, at every step of its progress, the floral carpet, 
whose freshness and beauty the long escort had tram- 
pled out. Ever and anon a shout would go up from 
that vast multitude, so loud and long, that its echoes, 
reverberated along the mountain walls that shut in that 
beautiful valley from the great world, would be heard 
for many a league around. Then, from some little 
group of trained chanters, a song of right loyal welcome 
would burst forth, accompanied with showers of roses, 
and followed by a chorus from thousands of sweet 
voices — 

Welcome ! welcome ! warrior, king — 
Thrice welcome with the prize you bring. 
Star of Montezuma's line, 
O'er the empire, rise and shine ! 
Flower of Montezuma's race 
Return, thy father's halls to grace ! 
Welcome, thrice welcome, mighty one ! 
The nation's heart shall be thy throne. 



CHAPTER IX. 



FESTIVITIES AT THE COURT OF GUATIMOZIN. THE NEW 
HYMENEAL VOW. 

Weaken jjabe to gfoam one, antr so prodafmeU 
JStzx full equalftg to man. ?^e tofjo 
Can asfc for more, ftnotos not tfje toortt) of one, 
&nti so treserbes not ang— 

The imperial court of Tenochtitlan was now again the 
radiant centre of attraction to the confederated and. 
tributary nations of Anahuac. The terror of Guatimo- 
zin's arm was even more dreaded than that of Monte- 
zuma. He was a mighty man of valor, of that impetu- 
ous courage, and that bold directness of action, which 
executes at a blow the purposes and plans, which, with 
common minds, would require time and deliberation. 
He was at the same time of a generous magnanimous 
disposition, open, frank, unsuspecting, and won the 
affectionate regard, as well as the prompt unquestion- 
ing obedience of his people. He had too much good 
sense, and too wise a regard to the dignity of those 
who should attend upon the person of majesty, to 
require of his nobles, the officers of his court and 
household, those humiliating attentions which were 



152 guatimozin's wisdom and activity. 

exacted by Montezuma. He saw that the only effect 
of such exactions was to weaken and eifeminate the 
character of some of his greatest chieftains, reducing 
them from proud and powerful friends to fawning 
cringing slaves. They were no longer shrouded in the 
sombre nequen, as they entered the royal presence, nor 
did they go barefoot, with their eyes cast down to the 
earth, when they bore the monarch in his luxurious 
palanquin. Arrayed in. all their costly finery, with 
golden or silver sandals, and with a bold, manly, cheer- 
ful bearing, as if they gloried in the precious treasure 
which it was their privilege, more than their duty, to 
protect and to care for, the imperial palanquin seemed 
rather their trophy than their burden, which they were 
far more ready to bear, than their master was to occupy. 
He was too active and stirring a spirit, to submit often 
to such a luxurious conveyance. He was ever in the 
midst of his chiefs, consulting and acting for the public 
good. He freely discussed with them the great mea- 
sures of defence, which he put in progress, and evinced 
the remarkable and rare good sense, to adopt wise and 
politic suggestions, however humble the source from 
which they emanated, and to change his opinion at 
once when it was shown to be wrong. He superin- 
tended, in person, the repairing and enlarging of the 
fortifications, and the improvement of the tactics and 
discipline of the army, By a frugal expenditure of the 
vast revenues of the crown, and a careful preservation 
of the treasures left by his predecessors, he accumulated 
an amount more than equal to the exigencies of a long 
and wasting struggle with all the combined foes of the 
realm. 



THE PRINCE OF TLACOPAN. 153 

Meanwhile, the gay saloons of the palace of Monte- 
zuma were gayer than they had ever been. For a 
brief season, the clouds that had so long hung over the 
fate of the lovely Tecuichpo seemed to be dissipated. 
The skies were all bright above her, and every thing 
around her wore a cheerful and promising aspect. 
Attracted by her resplendent beauty, the unaffected 
ease and graciousness of her manners, and the queenly 
magnificence of her court, the youth, beauty, wit, talent 
and chivalry of the nation, gathered about her, and 
made her life a perpetual gala-day, rivalling in bril- 
liancy and effect the best days of the gayest courts in 
Europe. 

Conspicuous among the gay multitude that flitted 
about the court, was Nahuitla, Prince of Tlacopan, a 
young chief of the Tepanecs. He was just ripening 
into manhood, of an uncommonly lithe and agile frame, 
exceedingly fair and graceful, and gifted with unusual 
powers of intellect. He was one of the rarest geniuses 
of the age, and astonished^and amused the court with 
the variety and beauty of his poems, and other works 
of taste. Nor did his intellectual accomplishments 
exceed his heroism and loyalty. Guatimozin had not 
an abler or more devoted chieftain in all his realm. It 
was he who fought side by side with the Emperor in 
all his after conflicts, endured with him the horrors of 
the wasting siege and painful captivity which fol- 
lowed, and finally shared his cruel and shameful mar- 
tyrdom, at the hands of the then terror-stricken and 
cowardly Cortez, declaring with his last breath, that he 
desired no better or more glorious lot, than to die by the 
side of his lord. 



154 PRINCESS ATLACAN, OF TEZCUCO. 

Nahuitla, like all good knights and brave soldiers, to 
say nothing of true poets, had a heart warmly suscepti- 
ble of tender impressions, and could not resist the bright 
eyes and witching smiles, that illuminated the saloons 
and gardens of the imperial palace. Promiscuous flirta- 
tion was less hazardous in Tenochtitlan than in most 
of the capitals of Christendom. The wealthy nobles 
being allowed to marry as many wives as they could 
support, the young prince could win the affections of 
all the bright daughters of the valley, without at all 
apprehending a suit for breach of promise, or a con- 
spiracy against his own life, or that of his favorite, by 
some disappointed rival. How many conquests he 
made in one brief campaign, does not appear in the 
chronicles of the day. Atlacan, a princess of Tezcuco, 
was his first trophy. She was very fair and highly 
gifted, resembling in many points of person and charac- 
ter, the guardian genius of the young Empress, the 
talented Karee. 

At his first encounter with the Tezcucan princess, 
Nahuitla was deeply impressed with a peculiar expres- 
sion of thoughtfulness, shading a brilliantly beautiful 
countenance, and imposing a kind of constrained awe 
upon the stranger. This shadow gradually disappeared 
upon a further acquaintance, till the whole face and 
person were so lighted up with the fire of her genius 
and wit, that it seemed as if invested with a superna- 
tural halo. Their intercourse was a perfect tourna- 
ment of wit, and their brilliant sallies and sparkling 
repartees, were the theme of universal admiration. 

The princess Atlacan was always attended by a 
very prudent, watchful, anxious chaperone, of a fair 



HER BROTHER AND THE MERCHANT OF CHOLULA. 155 

exterior, and pleasing manners, who had passed the 
meridian of life, and begun to wane into the cool of its 
evening. She had also a brother, Maxtli, considerably 
older than herself, who, from a two-fold motive, seemed 
to delight in disappointing her expectations, and 
thwarting her plans. He was a cold, mercenary, self- 
ish man, who sought only his own aggrandizement. 
The princess was a special favorite of her father, who 
was a prince of the highest rank, and nearly related to 
the reigning king of Tezcuco. She had already 
received many substantial proofs of parental partiality, 
which her avaricious brother would fain have claimed 
for himself. Her brilliant qualities and growing influ- 
ence made her an object of jealousy, as seeming to 
stand in the way of his own preferment. He had used 
every exertion to dispose of her in marriage to some of 
her numerous suitors, and had particularly advocated 
the cause of a wealthy young merchant of Cholula, 
who rejoiced in the euphonous name of Xitentloxiltlitl, 
from whom Maxtli had received large presents of gold 
and jewels. 

Atlacan despised the merchant, who fondly imagined 
that his gold could purchase any jewel in the realm. 
She would not listen to his proposals. It was not pride 
of family, for in Auahuac, under the Aztec dynasty, the 
merchant was a man of note, scarcely inferior to the 
proudest noble. But the merchant was only a mer- 
chant, a man of one idea, and that was gold, without 
refinement, without sentiment, without heart, like the 
majority of the same class of mere money mongers all 
the world over. 

Maxtli was enraged by his sister's refusal of this alii- 



156 THE LOVERS ESCAPE. 

ance, which, if it had been consummated, he would 
have made subservient to his own interests. He deter- 
mined, from mere revenge, to throw obstacles in the 
way of her alliance with the gifted prince of Tlacopan. 
The annoyances he invented, and the frequent pruden- 
tial interposition of her cautious chaperone, who was in 
the pay of Maxtli, made her position rather a difficult 
one, and often put her disposition to the severest test. 
It chanced, one lovely evening, that the lovers had 
stolen a march upon both their tormentors, and found, 
in the royal gardens, a few moments of that un watched 
uninterrupted conference, which only those in the same 
delicate relation, at the same period of life, know how 
to appreciate. Their absence from the saloons was 
soon noticed. The duenna was severely censured, and 
sent in pursuit of the fugitive. Karee, who was in the 
secret of the escape, led her a long and wearisome 
chase, through the numberless halls and corridors of 
that immense pile, and finally left her, at the furthest 
extremity of the building, to find her way back as she 
could. Then, returning to Maxtli, who could scarce 
restrain his rage that they had so long eluded him — 

" My lord," said she, " can you tell me where I shall 
find your sister ? I have a message for her, which I 
can only deliver to her personally." 

" I know not," he replied angrily, "but she is probably 
flirting somewhere with that fool fop, the royal bard of 
Tlacopan. But from whom does your message come?" 

" That can only be made known to herself. I saw 
her some time since, in the garden, leaning upon the 
arm of this same royal bard, the only young prince in 
Anahuac worthy of such a jewel." 



PURSUIT AND RETURN. 157 

The prince bit his lip with vexation, and Karee ran 
off toward the garden. In a few moments, the poor old 
chaperone came blustering along, out of breath and out 
of humor. 

" Fie upon the giddy girls of this generation," she 
exclaimed, " they know nothing of propriety. I won- 
der what would have been thought of such actions 
when 7" was young ! " 

"Hasten to the garden," said Maxtli, impatiently, 
" your hopeful pupil is there, and that rhyming fop is 
with her." 

He might as well have sent her to the labyrinth of 
Lemnos or Crete. Covering an immense area, and 
traversed in every direction by serpentine walks, shaded 
lanes, and magnificent avenues, one might have wan- 
dered up and down there a week, without finding one 
who wished to elude pursuit. She obeyed his direc- 
tions, however, and was soon lost in mazes more intri- 
cate and perplexing than those of the palace. 

Presently the truants returned, by a different path 
from that which their pursuer had taken. The princess 
wore in her bosom a significant flower, which she had 
received and accepted from her admirer. With a light 
and joyous step, he led her through the crowded saloon, 
and presented her to the queen, craving her sanction to 
the vows they had just plighted to each other. Grace- 
fully placing a chaplet of white roses and amaranths 
on their heads, the Empress gave them her blessing. 
Guatimozin, approaching at the same instant, confirmed 
it with hearty good will, and requested that the nup- 
tials might be celebrated at an early day, and in his 
own palace? •. 

14 



158 POLYGAMY ABJURED. 

So distinguished a favor could not be refused. In 
the course of the next week the solemn ceremonies 
were performed, with all the imposing pomp of the 
Aztec ritual. A royal banquet was prepared, and the 
palace resounded with joyous revelry and music. 

When the officiating priest had uttered the last 
solemn words which sealed the indissoluble bond, 
Nahuitla stood forth, and publicly avowed his belief, 
that the gods designed only one woman for each man, 
solemnly renounced the old doctrine of polygamy, and 
pledged to his young bride, in the presence of his royal 
master, and the brilliant throng that had witnessed his 
vows of love and constancy, an undivided heart, and 
an undivided house. 

Struck with surprise and admiration at this unex- 
pected scene, and impressed with the truth and purity 
of the sentiments, and the soundness of the conclusions, 
which the brave prince had proclaimed, the Emperor 
rose from his throne, and, with a bland but dignified 
and solemn air, addressed him : — 

" You are right, Nahuitla, my brave prince ; I feel it 
in my heart, you are right. I feel it in the claim which 
your Empress and mine, (looking affectionately at Te- 
cuichpo,) has in the undivided empire of my heart, and 
in that sacred bond of union which is so close, that it 
cannot be shared by another without being broken. 
In the presence of these holy men, and of these my 
witnessing people, I solemnly subscribe to the same 
pure vow which you have uttered, pledging my whole 
self, in the marriage covenant to this my chosen and 
beloved queen, even as she has pledged her whole 
self to me. And I ordain the same, as*the law of 



TORCH DANCE. 159 

this my realm, and binding on all my loyal subjects for 
ever." * 

If the noble Guatimozin had been permitted to 
sway the Aztec sceptre in peace, his name would be 
embalmed in the hearts of all the women of Anahuac, 
and the anniversary of the nuptials of Nahuitla and 
Atlacan would be celebrated, to this day, as the house- 
hold jubilee of the nation. 

The conclusion of this festival — the last of the kind 
that was ever celebrated in the halls of Montezuma — 
was a unique and magnificent specimen of Aztec taste 
and luxury. At a signal from the master of ceremo- 
nies, the royal garden was suddenly illuminated by a 
thousand torches, borne by as many well trained ser- 
vants in white livery. They were so stationed as to 
represent, from different points of view, groups of bright 
figures whirling in the mazy evolutions of a wild Indian 
dance. The harmony of their movements, and the 
picturesque effect of their frequent changes of position, 
was truly wonderful. It seemed more like magic than 
any thing belonging to the ordinary denizens of earth. 
By continually passing and re-passing each other, 

* If this incident be deemed apocryphal, by the rigid historian, the fable 
is fully justified by the known state of public sentiment among the Aztecs 
at this time. Sagahun, according to a note in Prescott, states, that poly- 
gamy, though allowed, was by no means generally practised among them ; 
and that the prevailing sentiment of the nation was opposed to it. One of 
the very few relics of their ancient literature, which were preserved in the 
general devastation of the conquest, is a letter of advice from a father to 
his child, on the eve of her marriage, in which he declares that it was the 
purpose of God, in his grand design of replenishing the earth, to make the 
sexes equal, and to allow only one wife to each man ; and any deviation 
from this arrangement, was contrary to the plainest laws of nature. 



160 SIGNIFICANT PANTOMIME. 

approaching and receding, raising and depressing their 
torches, the bearers were enabled to describe a great 
variety of fantastic figures. So well did they perform 
their parts, that, to the crowd of spectators from the 
palace, it was a perfect pantomime of light. 

At length the dance ended, and the figures of the 
various groups in light, gathering around a high altar, 
all of fire, seemed waiting for some sacred rite to be 
performed. Presently a tall princely figure was seen, 
approaching with slow and solemn pace, leading a 
lovely female to the altar. The high priest joined their 
hands in the indissoluble bond, and waved his wand 
of fire over their heads, in token of the divine blessing ; 
upon which the dance of the torches was instantly 
renewed, accompanied with strains of the most joyous 
music, each group breathing out its peculiar airs and 
melodies, while the whole were beautifully blended and 
harmonized by the master spirit of the fete. It seemed 
like the bridal of two angels of light, witnessed and 
celebrated by all the stars and constellations of the 
celestial spheres. 

The sudden extinguishment of these pantomimic 
stars, revealed to the surprised revellers the presence of 
the dawn, before whose coming the stars of every 
sphere go out, and revelry gives place to the sober reali- 
ties of life. 



CHAPTER X. 

RETURN OF CORTEZ. SIEGE OF TENOCHTITLAN. BRAVERY 
AND SUFFERINGS OF THE AZTECS, 

OT&at totll not man ensure, anti tooman too, 
2To jjuarti tt)c Jjeartf) autJ altar 1 <Kfbe to eacl) 
fk t&ousanU libes, antr Jjettfle tftem close arounti 
©Stftf) all tfjat maltes ft martgrttom to "Die, 
&ntt ajjong to suffer— treelg still, 
®2TO all t|)eir toealtl) of ulootJ, an"0 lobe, antJ tears, 
ffi&eg'li gfetti tfjem eberg one, auti tjpfnp,, tols& 
STljes fjaXi a tfjousantJ more to ojoe— 

Guatimozin was kept constantly informed of the pre- 
parations and movements of the Spaniards. His faith- 
ful spies followed them in all their marches, and found 
no difficulty in divining their general intentions and 
plans, as their courage revived on their arrival at Tlas- 
cala, and still more on the accession of a large rein- 
forcement of Spaniards at Vera Cruz. Cortez was now 
as resolute as ever in his purpose of conquest, and 
determined to regain his position in the capital, or 
perish in the attempt. He went with the sword in one 
hand and the olive-branch in the other, if that can be 
called an olive-branch, which admits of no answer but 
submission, and offers no alternative but slavery or 

14* 



162 TEZCUCO EVACUATED ON THE APPROACH OP CORTEZ. 

death. With a large increase of cavalry and artillery, 
an ample supply of ammunition, and a force both of 
Castilian and Indian allies, more than double of that 
which accompanied him on his former expedition, he 
took up his line of march from the friendly city of 
Tlascala, to cross the mountain barrier that separated 
him from his prey. Previous to his departure, he 
gave orders for the construction of a considerable 
number of brigantines, under the inspection of expe- 
rienced Spanish shipwrights, conceiving the singular 
and original idea of transporting them, on the shoul- 
ders of his men, across the mountains, and launching 
them upon the lake of Tezcuco, to aid him in laying 
siege to the city. His march was unchallenged till 
he arrived on the very shores of the great lake, and 
stood before the walls of Tezcuco. 

Here he halted, and sent a message to the governor 
to throw open his gates, and renew his allegiance to the 
crown of Castile. The messenger returned with a 
request that the Spaniard would delay his entry into 
the city, until the next morning, when he should be 
prepared to give him a suitable reception. Cortez, sus- 
pecting that all was not right, ascended one of the Teo- 
calli in the neighborhood, to ascertain if any hostile 
movement was contemplated. To his surprise, he saw 
immense crowds of people, thronging the thoroughfares 
on the other side of the city, and going, with as much 
of their substance as they could carry, towards the 
metropolis. Supposing that the city, when evacuated, 
would be given up to the flames, and that he should 
thus be cut oif not only from supplies, but from a place 
of shelter and retreat, he instantly sent forward a strong 



GUATIMOZIN REFUSES TO NEGOCIATE. 163 

body of horse, with a battalion of infantry, to arrest 
the fugitives, and to demand an interview with the 
cacique. 

Flight having been resolved upon, and the city hav- 
ing been devoted to destruction, as the most effectual 
annoyance to the Spaniards, no preparations were made 
to resist such a movement as this. The unarmed fugi- 
tives returned to their homes, in great numbers, and the 
city, with all its abandoned palaces and temples, offered 
ample accommodations to the invaders. The person 
of the chief was not secured, he having effected his 
escape, with the principal part of his nobles, and all his 
army, to the capital. Cortez, assuming to act in the 
name of the king of Castile, for whom he claimed the 
sovereignty of all these lands, immediately deposed the 
reigning chief, absolving the people from all further 
allegiance to him, and installed his brother, who was 
favorable to the cause of the Spaniards, in his place. 

Thus secured in such commanding quarters, the 
haughty Castilian surveyed the field around him, and 
prepared himself, with great diligence and deliberation, 
to regain possession of it. The most liberal and concili- 
ating overtures were made to the Emperor, if he would 
peaceably acknowledge the sovereignty of Castile, and 
admit him, as the representative of that crown, to the 
capital. These overtures were promptly and scornfully 
rejected, and every avenue to amicable negotiation effec- 
tually closed. The people of the country were sternly 
forbidden, on pain of death, from holding any inter- 
course with the strangers, or from administering, in 
any manner, to their wants. Large rewards were 
offered for captives, and every inducement held out to 



164 DEFECTION OF THE AZTECS. 

encourage the natives in a resistance, that should admit 
of no quarter, and terminate only in the utter extermi- 
nation of one of the parties. Guatimozin was a man 
every way adapted to a crisis like this. Of a firm 
indomitable spirit, patient of suffering and of toil, and 
skilful in all the strategy of war and defence, and pos- 
sessed of the entire confidence and affection of his own 
people, he applied himself to the work of self-preserva- 
tion, with an energy and fertility of resource, which 
scarcely ever, in a righteous cause, fails to ensure suc- 
cess. That he was suffered to fail, is one of those 
inscrutable providences which stand frequently out on 
the page of history, to confound the short-sighted saga- 
city of man, and restrain his too inquisitive desire to 
fathom the counsels and purposes of heaven. 

Perceiving that the ground was to be contested, step 
by step, and that not a foot would be yielded but at the 
point of the bayonet, and the mouth of the cannon, 
Cortez resolved on reducing the smaller towns first, 
and so approaching the capital, by slow degrees, leav- 
ing no unfriendly territory behind him, to cut oft* his 
supplies, or annoy his rear. In this manner, after 
almost incredible hardships, and many severe contests, 
in which his forces were very considerably reduced, he 
succeeded in wresting by violence, or winning by diplo- 
macy, many of the tributary cities and districts from 
their allegiance to the Mexican crown. In their attempt 
upon Iztapalapan, which was led by Cortez in person, 
they were near being entirely overwhelmed by an arti- 
ficial inundation of the city. The great dikes were 
pierced by the natives, and the waters of the lake came 
pouring in upon them, in torrents, from which they made 



HOW ACCOUNTED FOR 165 

their escape with the utmost difficulty, with the loss of 
all their booty and ammunition, and not a few of their 
Indian allies. The place, however, was reduced to 
submission. Chalco, Otumba, and many other impor- 
tant posts were soon after added to the number of the 
conquered. 

This work of subjugation among the tributary pro- 
vinces and cities, was not a little facilitated by the 
memory of the iron rule of Montezuma, and his severe 
exactions upon all his subjects, to maintain the splen- 
dors of the imperial palace. They had long felt these 
exactions to be most burdensome and unequal, and had 
only submitted to them by force of the terror of that 
name, which made all Anahuac tremble. They were, 
therefore, not unwilling to embrace any opportunity to 
throw off the Aztec yoke, when they could do it with 
the hope of ultimate protection from its vengeance. 
They had not long enough tested the administration of 
Guatimozin, to look for any relief from their burdens 
under his reign. He came to the throne at one of those 
signal crises in the affairs of the empire, which 
demanded all its resources, both physical and pecu- 
niary, and was therefore compelled, for the time, rather 
to increase than diminish their taxes, and make heavier 
requisitions than usual upon their personal services. 
They were ready for a change of masters, and, as is 
usual in such cases, did not stop to consider whether 
the change might not be rather for the worse than for 
the better. As soon, therefore, as they ascertained that 
the Spanish power was sufficient to protect them against 
the fury of their old oppressors, they rushed to their 
standard, and arrayed themselves against the brave 



166 A FLEET ON LAKE TEZCUCO. 

defenders of their native land. The event proved that 
the rod of iron was exchanged for a two-edged one of 
steel, a natural sovereign of their own race, for a worse 
than Egyptian task-master, and a subjection which left 
undisturbed their ancient customs, and the common 
relations of society, for an indiscriminate slavery which 
respected neither person nor property, and levelled alike 
the public and private institutions of the land. 

Meanwhile the brigantines, which had been rapidly 
progressing at Tlascala, were completed. They were 
thirteen in number. They were first put together, and 
tried upon the waters of the Tahnapan ; then taken to 
pieces, and the timbers, with all the tackle and appa- 
rel, including anchors, transported on the shoulders of 
the Tlascalan laborers, over the hills, and through 
the narrow denies of the mountain, a distance of sixty 
miles, and re-constructed within the walls of Tezcuco. 
To open a communication with the lake, it was still 
necessary to make a canal, a mile and a half in length, 
twelve feet wide, and as many deep. This was accom- 
plished in season for launching the little fleet, having 
eight thousand men employed upon it during two 
months. It was a day of great rejoicing and appro- 
priate religious solemnity, when that little squadron 
appeared, with the ensign of Castile floating proudly at 
each mast head, their white sails swelling in the breeze, 
the smoke of the cannon rolling around, and the deep 
thunder reverberating from every side of the distant 
mountains. 

There is, perhaps, no single achievement in the 
annals of human enterprize, more remarkable than this. 
There is certainly none which more clearly shows, or 



THE GENIUS OF CORTEZ. 167 

more beautifully illustrates, the daring indomitable spi- 
rit, and mighty genius, which alone could have achieved 
the conquest of Mexico. Who but Cortez would have 
conceived of such a design ? Who but Cortez would 
have attempted and successfully executed it ? To con- 
struct thirteen vessels of sufficient burthen to sustain 
the weight and action of heavy cannon, and accommo- 
date the men and soldiers necessary to navigate and 
defend them, at a distance of twenty leagues from the 
waters on which they were to swim — to convey them 
over mountains, and through deep and difficult denies, 
on the shoulders of men, without the aid of any species 
of waggon, or beast of burden, and to do this in the 
midst of a country, and with the aid of a people, where 
nothing had hitherto been known beyond the primitive 
bark canoe, and where the natural associations, and 
prevailing superstitions of the natives, were totally 
adverse to his design — to accomplish this alone would 
immortalize any other man. What was the passage of 
the Alps by Hannibal, or by Napoleon, compared to 
this? Yet, so replete was the whole expedition of Cor- 
tez with adventures of unparalleled difficulty, and 
achievements of dazzling splendor, that this is but a 
common event in his history, with nothing small or 
insignificant to place it in commanding relief. It was 
one of the infelicities in the career of this wonderful 
man, that he was continually eclipsing himself, show- 
ing an originality and power of conception, a fertility 
of invention and resource, and a determination and 
energy in overcoming difficulties, and making occur- 
rences, seemingly the most adverse, bend to his will 
and subserve his designs, which wearies our surprise 



168 THE CAPITAL INVESTED. 

and admiration, and actually exhausts our capacity of 
astonishment. 

Nothing was now wanting to complete the arrange- 
ments of the invader for laying siege to Tenochtitlan. 
By the aid of the brigantines. he was able to command 
the entire lake, sweeping away the frail canoes of the 
natives, like bubbles on the surface. All the cities and 
towns on its border had fallen, one after another, into 
his hands, though not without a desperate defence, and 
frequent and wasting sallies from the foe. The metro- 
polis, that beautiful and magnificent gem upon the fair 
bosom of the lake, now stood alone, deserted by all her 
friends and supporters, the object of the concentrated 
hostility of the foreign invader, the ancient enemy, and 
the recent ally. 

In that devoted capital, now so closely and' fearfully 
invested, there was a spirit and power fully equal to the 
awful crisis. As sOon as Guatimozin perceived, by 
the movements of his enemy, that the city was to be 
assailed rather by the slow and wasting siege, than by 
the storm of war, he made every possible preparation to 
sustain himself at his post. The aged, the infirm, the 
sick, and, as far as possible, all the helpless among the 
inhabitants, were sent off among the neighboring towns, 
and country ; while all those who were able to do ser- 
vice in the army, were brought thence into the city. 
Provisions were collected in great quantities, and all 
the resources then left to the empire concentrated upon 
one point, that of making an obstinate, unyielding 
defence. In this condition of affairs the siege com- 
menced ; a large part of the fighting men of the neigh- 
boring cities and towns being in the capital, preparing 



SPIRIT OF THE AZTECS. 169 

to defend it against enemies with whom those cities 
and towns were now in close alliance. Though it thus 
brought the father against the son, and the son against 
the father, in many instances, it did not, in any case, 
disappoint the confidence of Guatimozin, or undermine 
the loyalty of his troops. There were no deserters from 
his standard. Through all the horrors of that wasting 
siege, they stood by their sovereign, and their capital, 
as if they knew no other home, no other friend. 

In vain did the Castilian commander propose terms 
of accommodation to the beleaguered city. The 
Emperor would not condescend even to an interview. 
His chiefs and his people, whenever they had an oppor- 
tunity to do so, treated every attempt at compromise 
with utter scorn. They derided Cortez upon his disas- 
trous evacuation of the capital on "the melancholy 
night," assuring him that, if he should enter its gates 
now, he would not find a Montezuma on the throne. 
They taunted their Tlascalan allies as women, who 
would never have dared to approach the capital, with- 
out the protection of the white men. 

Sustained by this spirit, the warlike Mexican did not 
content himself with mere measures of defence. Fre- 
quent and desperate sallies were made upon the out- 
posts of the enemy, until it seemed as if the hope of the 
noble Guatimozin might possibly be realized, that he 
might slowly and gradually destroy an enemy, whom 
he could not encounter in a pitched battle. 

It was not until the last avenue to the surrounding 
country was cut off, by divisions of the invading army, 
planted upon all the causeways, supported in all their 
movements by the thundering brigantines, that the true 

15 



170 THE Q.UEEN IN HER REVERSES. 

spirit of the besieged began to show itself. Till then, 
their tables had been plentifully supplied, and their 
hopes continually encouraged by the occasional losses 
of their enemy, whose numbers were too small to admit 
of much diminution. The priests were unremitting in 
their appeals to the patriotism of the people, and in 
promises of peculiar divine blessings on all who should 
persevere to the last, in defence of their altars and their 
gods. Guatimozin was ever among his people, encour- 
aging them by kind words, and an example of unyield- 
ing defiance to every advance of the foe. He showed 
that he was not less the father of his people, than their 
king, suffering the same exposure, and enduring the 
same fatigues with the boldest and hardiest of his sub- 
jects. 

Such was their confidence of ultimate success in the 
defence of the capital, that the splendor and gaiety of 
the court was little diminished, "until famine began to 
stare them in the face. The aqueduct of Chapoltepec 
had been cut off, and there was no longer any supply 
of wholesome water in the city. The dark visions of 
the lovely queen were now renewed. For a brief sea- 
son, she had been permitted to revel in daylight, with 
scarcely a cloud to darken the sky above her. Sud- 
denly that light was obscured. All was gloom and 
darkness around her. War, desolating war hovered 
once more about the gates of the beloved city. Wan 
faces, and haggard forms began to take the places of 
the gay, happy, spirited multitudes, that so recently 
thronged the palace. The image of her father, insulted 
by the stranger, murdered by his own people, rose to 
her view. His melancholy desponding look and tone, 



FAMINE. 171 

as he gave way to the doom which he felt was sealed 
upon him, his frequent assurances that the white men 
were " the men of destiny," the heaven appointed pro- 
prietors and rulers of the land, and that wo would 
betide all who should oppose their pretensions, or offer 
resistance to their invincible arms — all these came up 
fresh to her thoughts, and filled her with sadness. Her 
own ill-starred destiny too, marked by every possible 
sign and presage, as full of darkness and sorrow — the 
thought was almost overwhelming. Fain would she 
have severed at once the bond that linked her fate with 
that of Guatimozin, for she felt that he was only sharing 
her doom, and on her account was exposed to these ter- 
rible shafts of fate. The love of Guatimozin, the faith- 
ful devotion of Karee, though they soothed in some 
measure her troubled spirit, could not wholly re-assure 
her, or dissipate the dreadful thought, that all these ter- 
rible calamities were come upon the nation only as a 
part of that dark doom, for which the gods had marked 
her out, on her very entrance into life. 

It was long before the Emperor and his imme- 
diate household, were made aware of the awful pres- 
sure of famine within that devoted city. Watchful and 
observing as he was, the people, with one consent, had 
contrived to keep him in comparative ignorance of the 
growing scarcity, in order that they might be permitted 
to supply his table, as long as possible, with all the 
necessaries and luxuries of life. So far was this loyal 
devotion carried, that multitudes, both of the chiefs and 
of the common people, were daily in the habit of deny- 
ing themselves of every thing but what was absolutely 
necessary to sustain life, and sending to the palace 



172 LOVE STRONGER THAN WANT. 

every article of fresh food, or delicate fruit, which they 
could obtain from their own gardens, or purchase from 
those of others. This noble devotion on the part of his 
people, was discovered and made known to the Empe- 
ror by Karee. She was the almoner of the bounty of 
the queen to multitudes of the poor and the sick, in 
different quarters of the city. On one of her errands 
of mercy, while she was administering to the comfort 
of a poor friend, in the last stages of mortal disease, 
made ten-fold more appalling by the absence of almost 
every thing that could sustain nature in the final strug- 
gle, she overheard the conversation of a father with his 
child in the adjoining room. 

" Nay, my dear father, you must eat it. Your 
strength is almost gone, and how can you stand among 
the fighting men, and defend your king and you? 
house, when you have eaten nothing for two whole 
days?" 

" My precious child, I shall find something when I 
go out. But this morsel is for you, for I know you 
cannot live till I come home, if you do not eat this. 
And what will life be worth when you are gone." 

" Father, dear father, I cannot eat it. It will do me 
more good to see you eat it, for then I shall be sure you 
can live another day at least, and then, who knows but 
the gods will send us help." 

Karee could listen no longer. Rushing into the 
apartment whence these melancholy sounds proceeded, 
she beheld the shadow of a once beautiful girl leaning 
on the arm of the pale and wasted figure of a man, 
endeavoring to draw him towards a table on which lay 
a single morsel of dried fruit, which he had brought in 



THE FAMISHING FED. 173 

for her, it being the only food that either of them had 
seen for two days. 

" Take this," said she, offering the sweet child a por- 
tion of what she had prepared for the invalid, but 
which she was too far gone to receive, " and may it 
give you both strength till the day of our deliverance." 
And she instantly returned to the death-bed of her 
friend. 

To the famishing group it was like the apparition of 
an angel, with a gift from the gods. The savory mess 
was readily divided, though the affectionate self-deny- 
ing child contrived to cheat her father into receiving a 
little more than his share, while he tried every effort in 
vain, to persuade her to take the larger half. The 
wretched pair had not had such a feast for many a long 
week. " Ah ! " exclaimed the daughter, as she wept 
over the luxurious repast, " if our dear mother could 
have had such a morsel as this, before she died, to stay 
her in that last dreadful agony." 

"Yes, my beloved child," replied the subdued and 
bitterly bereaved father, " but she has gone where there 
is plenty, and no tears mingled with it." 

The dried fruit was laid away for the morrow. But 
the same kind hand that relieved them on that day, 
was there again on the morrow, and on every succeed- 
ing day, till the city was sacked, and the wretched 
ghosts of its inhabitants given up to an indiscriminate 
slaughter. 

When Guatimozin was made acquainted with this 
incident, he resolved on making another desperate sally, 
with the whole force of his wasted army, in the forlorn 
hope of breaking through the ranks of the enemy, and 

15* 



174 DESPERATION A STRATAGEM. 

procuring some subsistence for his famishing people. 
Having drawn them up in the great square, his heart 
sunk within him, when he saw their pale faces and 
emaciated forms, and contrasted them with the fierce, 
stout, and seemingly invincible host, whom he had so 
often Jed into battle. But the feeling of despondency 
gaye way instantly to that stern fixed purpose, that ter- 
rible decision of soul, which is the natural offspring of 
desperation. With a firm voice, he addressed them. 

" My brave soldiers, we must not any longer lie still. 
The enemy is at our gates, and we are perishing in our 
own citadel. Have we not once driven them, with a 
terrible and almost exterminating slaughter, along those 
very causeways which they now claim to occupy and 
to close up ? Are they more invincible now than then ? 
Are we less resolute, less fearless ? By our famishing 
wives and children, by our desecrated altars and gods, 
let us rush upon them and overwhelm them at once." 

The monarch had not yet finished his stirring appeal, 
when a courier rushed in, bringing tidings that the 
several divisions of the besieging army were moving 
up the causeways, and approaching the city on every 
side. t 

" They come to their own destruction," said the mon- 
arch, bitterly, and immediately proceeded to distribute 
his men, to give them a fitting reception. The larger 
part of the forces were ordered to occupy several some- 
what retired places, amid the great public buildings in 
the centre of the city, where they should be in readi- 
ness to obey the royal signal. The remainder were to 
go out, in their several divisions, to meet and skirmish 
with the advancing foe, doing them as much mischief 



THE TIDE OF BATTLE TURNED. 175 

as possible, yet suffering themselves to be driven before 
them, till they were decoyed into the heart of the city. 
The signal would then be given, when every man who 
could draw a bow, or wield a lance, or throw a stone, 
would be expected to do his duty. 

It was a stratagem worthy of Guatimozin, and, in its 
execution, had well nigh overwhelmed the Spaniards, 
and saved the city. Cortez had appointed with the 
captains of each division of his army to meet in the 
great square of the city. Each one being eager to be 
first at the goal, they followed the retreating Aztecs 
without consideration, and without making any provi- 
sion for their own retreat. The watchful agents of 
Guatimozin were behind as well as before them ; and 
when they had passed the gates, and were pressing up, 
with all the heat and enthusiasm of a victorious army, 
into the heart of the city, the bridges were taken up in 
their rear, to cut off, if possible, their retreat. When 
this was effected, the fatal horn of Guatimozin blew a 
long loud blast, from the summit of the great Teocalli. 
In an instant, the retreating Aztecs turned upon their 
pursuers, like tigers ravening upon their prey; while 
swarms of fresh warriors poured in from every lane 
and street and avenue, rushing so fiercely upon the 
too confident assailants, as to bring them to a sudden 
pause in their triumphant career. At the same mo- 
ment, the roof of every house and temple, along the 
whole line of their march, was covered with men, who 
poured upon them such a shower of stones that it 
seemed impossible to escape being buried under them. 
The tide of battle was now turned. The too daring 
invaders were thrown into confusion, and compelled to 



176 PERILOUS POSITION OF THE INVADERS. 

retreat This the y soon found, to their bitter cost, was 
nearly impossible. When it was discovered that the 
bridges, over which they had so recently passed, were 
removed, the utmost consternation prevailed. The 
heavy cannon were all on board the brigantines, so 
that they were unable, as in former times, to mow 
down the solid ranks of their foes, and break a way for 
their retreat. Their cavalry was of little service, for 
they could not leap the wide chasms made by the 
removal of the bridges. Cut off in front by the. solid 
masses of warriors that blocked up every avenue, and 
in the rear by these yawning chasms, and hemmed in 
on each side by the massive stone walls of the build- 
ings, they could neither protect themselves, nor effect- 
ually annoy their enemy. They were in imminent 
danger of perishing ignobly in the ditch, without even 
striking a blow in their own defence. 

Fortunately for the invaders, their sagacious and 
ever- wakeful general had anticipated the possibility of 
such a scene as this, and had taken some measures 
to forestall it. His officers, however, were too high- 
spirited and self-confident to condescend to the cow- 
ardly drudgery of carrying out his precautionary 
measures. They thought only of victory, and the 
spoils of the glorious city, which they now regarded as 
their own. 

In this fearful dilemma, the genius of Cortez did not 
desert him. When the first shout of battle reached his 
ears, as he was advancing cautiously along the avenue, 
he instantly conjectured the cause. Ordering his own 
column to halt, and selecting a chosen band of his best 
cavalry, he wheeled about, dashed furiously down the 



CORTEZ NARROWLY ESCAPES. 177 

avenue, and put to flight the unarmed Aztecs, who 
were doing the work of destruction for him, and had 
then almost succeeded in tearing away the foundations 
of the great bridge. Making his way through the 
deserted streets, with the speed of the wind, he came 
round into the other avenue, where one division of his 
army was hemmed in, in the manner above described. 
Charging impetuously upon the gathering crowds of 
Aztecs, he succeeded in forcing his way up to the 
chasm, where he stood face to face with his own troops 
on the other side. Here, in the midst of a pitiless tem- 
pest of stones, and darts and arrows, he maintained his 
stand, while his men, with incredible labor, attempted 
to fill up the chasm. 

The work was at length accomplished, though not 
without the most serious loss to Cortez. Some of his 
bravest officers fell in that merciless contest with foes 
who would neither give nor receive quarter. Many 
were pelted down with the huge stones, that ceased not 
to rain upon them from all the neighboring house tops. 
Some were taken by the feet as they labored to main- 
tain a precarious footing on the slippery causeway, and 
dragged into the canals, either to be drowned in the 
desperate struggle there, or carried off in the canoes to 
captivity or sacrifice. Cortez himself narrowly escaped 
immolation. 

At length, through the indomitable perseverance of 
the general, the breach was so far filled up as to make 
a practicable passage for the troops. A retreat was 
sounded, and that gallant band, which, a few hours 
before had rushed in with flaunting banners, and confi- 
dent boastings of an easy victory, was glad to escape 



178 DISASTROUS RETREAT. 

from the snare into which they had fallen, their num- 
bers greatly reduced, their banners soiled and tattered, 
and their expectations of ultimate success terribly 
shaken. They were pursued through all their march 
by the exulting Aztecs, and many a broken head and 
bruised limb attested the truth of Guatimozin's taunting 
challenge, that the Spaniards, if they entered the capi- 
tal again, would find as many fortresses as there were 
houses, as many assailants as stones in the streets. 



CHAPTER II. 



STRAITNESS OF THE FAMINE. THE FINAL CONFLICT. FLIGHT 
AND CAPTURE OF GUATIMOZIN. DESTINY FULFILLED. 

Beat!) opens eberg "Ooor, 
gCxilt sfts In eberj chamber fog tjfmselfc 
Kf tofjat mfgfjt feeti a sparroto sfjoulti suffice 
jFot softness' meals, ge tmbe not tofjeretoft&al 
Eo Itnfler out tijtee trags. ifot corn, there's none; 
& mouse, fmprfsoneU ftt gour jjranarfes, 
Wtzxz starbefc to treat!). 



This shameful defeat was a tremendous blow to the 
ardent anticipations of the conqueror. Many of the 
timid and the discontented in his own ranks availed 
themselves of the opportunity to create divisions, and 
withdraw from the doubtful contest. The Mexicans, 
strengthened by the spoils of their assailants, and yet 
more by the new courage which their late success 
infused into every heart among them, immediately com- 
menced repairing their works, clearing their canals, and 
making the most vigorous preparations for maintaining 
the siege. Their priests, infuriated with the number of 
sacrifices which they had been enabled to offer to the 
gods, from the captives of high and low degree taken in 
the conflict, declared with authoritative solemnity, that 



180 THE CITY LAID WASTE. 

the anger of the gods was now appeased, and that they 
had promised unequivocally, the speedy annihilation 
of their invading foes. This oracular declaration was, 
by the order of Guatimozin, published in the hearing 
of the Indian allies of his adversary. It was a politic 
stroke, and, if the oracle had not imprudently fixed too 
early a day for the execution of the predicted ven- 
geance, its eifect might have been such as to break for 
ever the bonds of that unnatural alliance, and leave the 
little handful of white men, with all their boasted pre- 
tensions to immortality, to perish by the hands of their 
own friends. 

But why dwell longer upon the appalling details of 
this miserable siege. The day of predicted vengeance 
arrived, and the Spaniards survived it. Their super- 
stitious terror-stricken allies returned to their allegiance. 
By a judicious administration of reward and discipline, 
of promise and threatening, all disaifection was hushed. 
New measures of offence were concerted, with a deter- 
mination, on the part of the besiegers, to press into the 
city by degrees, securing every step, as they advanced, 
by levelling every building, and filling up every ditch, 
in their progress, till not one stone should be left upon 
another in Tenochtitlan. This terrible resolution was 
carried into effect. Every building, whether public or 
private, palace, temple, or Teocalli, from which they 
could be annoyed by the indomitable Aztec, was laid 
waste. The canals were filled up and levelled, so as 
to give free scope for the movements of the cavalry and 
artillery. The beautiful suburbs were reduced to a 
level plain, a dry arid waste, covered with the ruins of 
all that was dear and sacred in the eyes of the Aztec. 



REDUCED TO THE LAST EXTREMITY. 181 

Slowly, but surely, the Spaniard pressed on towards the 
heart of the city, in which the heroic monarch, with his 
miserable remnant of starving subjects and skeleton sol- 
diers were pent up, dying by thousands of famine and 
pestilence, and yet ready to suffer a thousand deaths, 
rather than yield themselves up to the mercy of the foe. 

There was now absolutely nothing left, in earth or 
air, to sustain for another day the poor remains of life 
in the camp of the besieged. Every foot of ground had 
be.en dug over many times, in quest of roots, and even 
of worms. The leaves and bark had been stripped 
from every tree and shrub, till there was not a green 
thing on all those terraces, which were once like the 
gardens of Elysium. The dead and the dying lay in 
heaps together, for there was neither life nor spirit in 
any that breathed, to do the last office, for the departed. 
Pestilence was in all the air, so that many even of the 
besieging army snuffed it in the breeze that swept over 
the city, and fell victims to the very fate which their 
cruel rapacity was inflicting on the besieged. 

Famine, cruel, gnawing famine, was in the palace of 
the Emperor, as well as in the hovel of his meanest 
subject. That noble prince quailed not before the fate 
that awaited himself. Had he stood alone in that cita- 
del, with power in his single arm to keep out the foe, 
he would have stood till death, in whatever form, 
released him from his post, and spurned every sugges- 
tion of compromise or quarter. But the scenes of utter 
distress which every where met his eye — the haggard 
ghosts of his friends, flitting restlessly before him, 01 
crawling feebly and with convulsive moans among the 
upturned earth, in the forlorn hope of finding anothei 

16 



182 LOYALTY OUTLIVING HOPE. 

root — the dead — the dying — the more miserable liv- 
ing longing for death, and glaring with their horribly 
prominent, but glazed and expressionless eye-balls on 
each other — this, this was too much for the heart of 
Guatimozin. 

" What ! " he exclaimed, " shall I submit to see my 
last friend die before my eyes, and my own sweet wife 
perish of hunger, only to retain for another hour the 
empty name of king. No. I will endure it no longer. 
I will go to Malinche, alone, and unaccompanied, and 
offer my life for yours. He only wants our gold. -Let 
him find that if he can. He will spare you, and wreak 
all his vengeance on my head." 

A faint murmur ran through the crowd, and then a 
feeble expiring "No, never," burst feebly from many 
lips. One, a little stronger than the rest, arose and 
said — 

" Most gracious sovereign, think not of us. We only 
ask to live and die with and for you. And the more 
cruel the death, the more glorious the martyrdom for 
our country and our gods. Trust not Malinche." 

The speaker fainted and fell, with his fist clenched, 
and his teeth set, as if he felt that he held the last foe 
in mortal conflict. 

" No, never — trust not Malinche — let us die together," 
was echoed by many sepulchral voices, that seemed 
more like the groans of the dead, than the remon- 
strances of the living. 

" Trust not Malinche, remember my father," whis- 
pered the fond, devoted, faithful, affectionate wife, now 
the shadow of her former self, beautiful in her queenly 
sorrow, sublime in her womanly composure. 



DEATH PREFERRED TO SUBMISSION. 183 

Guatimozin, the proud, the lofty chief, whose heart 
had never known fear, whose soul had never been sub- 
dued, bowed his head upon the bosom of his wife, and 
wept. The strong heart, the lion spirit melted. 

" Who, who will care for Tecuichpo ? Who will 
cherish the last daughter of Montezuma ?" 

" Think not of me, Guatimozin, think of yourself and 
your people, I am resigned to my fate. If I may but 
die with you, it is all I desire — for how could I live 
without you. But think not of trusting Malinche. Let 
us remain as we are. Another day, and we shall all 
be at rest from our sufferings. And surely it were 
better to die together by our altars, than to fall into the 
hands of the treacherous stranger." 

" Trust not Malinche," added Karee. " Was it not 
trust in him that brought all this evil upon us ? Think 
not of submission. You shall see that women can die 
as well as men. Let Malinche come, and take posses- 
sion of the remains of these mutilated walls and deso- 
lated gardens, but let him not claim one living Aztec, 
to be his slave, or his subject." 

A murmur of approbation followed, and then a long 
pause ensued. It was like the silence of death. The 
whole scene would have made an admirable picture. 
At length the silence was broken by the voice of the 
young Cacique of Tlacopan. 

" My sovereign," said he, in a faint voice, but with 
something of the energy of despair, " there is yet hope. 
Let us muster what force we can, of men who are able 
to stand, and sally out upon the enemy. We cannot 
do him much harm. But, while he is occupied with 
us, you and your family, with a few attendants can 



184 A FORLORN HOPE. 

escape by a canoe over the lake. As many of us as 
have life and strength to do it, will follow you, under 
cover of the coming night. Your old subjects will 
flock around you there, and we may yet, when we 
shall have tasted food, and become men again, make 
a stand somewhere against the foe, and drive him 
out." 

"It is well ! it is well !" was the feeble response on 
every side. 

" I cannot leave you," replied the monarch. " What ! 
shall your king fly, like a coward, while his people 
rush upon the enemy only to cover his retreat? No, 
that were worse than death — worse than captivity ! " 

" It is not flight, my beloved sovereign," responded 
the Cacique, "it is an honorable stratagem of war, for 
the good of the nation, not less than your own. When 
you are gone, we have no head, and we fall at once 
into the captivity we so much dread. Leave us but 
the name and person of Guatimozin to rally around, 
and it will be a tower of strength, which can never 
fail us." 

" Yes, yes, it is right," was whispered on every side 
— " Go, noble monarch, go at once. It is a voice from 
heaven to save us." 

To this counsel the priests added their earnest advice, 
and even Tecuichpo ventured to say, " it whispered of 
hope to her heart." Guatimozin suffered himself to be 
overruled. The canoes were made ready in the grand 
canal, which yet remained open on the eastern side. 
All thaH could be safely taken of treasure, and of conve- 
nient apparel, was carefully stowed. The Queen and 
other ladies of the court, with her faithful Karee, all 



THE BATTLE OF THE GHOSTS. 185 

wasted to skeletons, and moving painfully, like phan- 
toms of beauty in a sickly dream, were conveyed to the 
barges. The Emperor and his attendants followed, 
and all was in readiness for the departure. At that 
moment the martial horn was sounded from the great 
Teocalli, and the shadowy host of the Aztec army stag- 
gered forth to offer battle to the enemy. It was a fear- 
ful sight. It seemed as if the armies of the dead, the 
mighty warriors of the past, had risen from their 
graves, to fight for their desecrated altars, and to defend 
those very graves from profanation. Feebly, but fear- 
fully, with glaring eyes and hideous grin, they rushed 
upon the serried ranks of the besiegers. A kind of 
superstitious terror seized them, as if these shapes were 
something more than mortal. For a moment they 
gave way to panic, and fell back without striking a 
blow. Roused by the stentorian voice of Cortez, they 
rallied instantly, and discharging their heavy fire arms, 
swept away whole ranks of their frenzied assailants. 
It was a brief conflict. Many of the Aztecs fell by the 
swords of the Spaniards, and the spears of their merci- 
less allies. Some fell, faint with their own exertions, 
and died without a wound. Some grappled desperately 
with the foe, content to die by his hand, if they could 
first quench their burning thirst with one drop of his 
blood. 

At length, a long blast from the horn sounded a 
retreat. The poor remnant turned towards the city, 
and were suffered to escape unmolested to their desolate 
homes. 

Meanwhile, the little fleet of Guatimozin had put 
forth upon the lake. The canoes separated, as they left 

16* 



186 THE FLIGHT — THE CHASE. 

the basin of the canal, taking different directions, the 
better to escape the observation of the brigantines. The 
precaution was a wise one, but unavailing. The watch- 
ful eye of the besieging general was there. The brigan- 
tines gave chase to the fugitives. Bending to their 
paddles with the utmost strength of their feeble ema- 
ciated arms, they found their pursuers gaining upon 
them. Casting their gold into the lake, Guatimozin 
directed them to cease their exertions, and wait the 
approach of the enemy. 

" Not without one little effort more, I beseech you," 
exclaimed Karee. " See, my chinampa is close at 
hand. Let us try to gain that. It has food on its trees 
for many days, and I have there a place of concealment, 
curiously contrived beneath the water, where you and 
the queen may remain without fear of detection, till we 
can effect your escape to the shore." 

In an instant the paddles were in the water, and the 
canoe shot ahead with unusual speed. The combined 
energy of hope and despair nerved every arm, and fired 
every heart. They neared the beautiful chinampa. 
Their eyes feasted on its fresh and cooling verdure, and 
its ripe fruits hanging luxuriantly on every bough. 
Their ears were ravished with the music of the birds, 
who had long since deserted their wonted haunts in the 
capital. 

While the chase was gaining rapidly upon them, 
another of those fearful brigantines, which had hitherto 
been concealed by the thick foliage of the chinampa, 
rounded its little promontory, and appeared suddenly 
before them. Instantly, every paddle dropped, every 
arm was paralyzed. Not a word was spoken. In pas- 



"the last of the aztecs" a captive. 187 

sive silence each one waited for his doom, which was 
now inevitable. When the Spaniard had approached 
within hailing distance, the Emperor rose in his little 
shallop, and, waving his hand proudly, said, " I am 
Guatimozin." 

The royal prisoners were treated with the utmost 
deference and respect. Being brought into the presence 
of Cortez, the monarch, pale, emaciated, the shadow of 
what he had been, approached with an air of imperial 
dignity, and said — 

" Malinche, I have done what I could to defend 
myself and protect my people. Now I am your pris- 
oner. Do what you will with me, but spare my poor 
people, who have shown a fidelity and an endurance 
worthy of a better fate." 

Cortez, filled with admiration at the proud bearing 
of the young monarch, assured him that not only his 
family and his people, but himself should be treated 
with all respect and tenderness. " Better," said Guati- 
mozin, laying his hand on the hilt of the general's 
poignard, " better rid me of life at once, and put an end 
to my cares and sufferings together." 

" No," replied Cortez, " you have defended your capi- 
tal like a brave warrior. I respect your patriotism, I 
honor you valor, and your firm endurance of suffering. 
You shall be my friend and the friend of my sovereign,, 
and live in honor among your own people." 

The keen eye of the monarch flashed with something 
like indignation, when allusion was made to the king 
of Castile, and to himself as his vassal. 

" In honor I cannot live," he said proudly, " for I am 
defeated. A king I cannot be, for he is no king who is 



188 THE QUEEN AND THE CONQUEROR. 

subject to another. T am your prisoner. The gods 
have willed it, and I submit." 

Renewing his politic assurances of friendship and 
favor, the conqueror sent for the wife and family of his 
captive, first ordering a royal banquet to be prepared for 
them. Supported by Karee, leaning on the arm of the 
devoted Nahuitla, the lord of Tlacopan, the queen was 
ushered into the presence of the conqueror. Her appear- 
ance struck the general and his officers with admira- 
tion. Timid as she was by nature, she had the air and 
port of inborn royalty ; and, in deference to her hus- 
band, she would not have allowed herself to quail 
before the assembled host of Castile, dreaded as they 
were, and had long been. With a becoming courtesy, 
she returned the respectful salutations of Malinche and 
his cavaliers, and asked no other favor than to share 
the fate of her lord. 

What that fate was, and how the Castilian knight 
redeemed his pledges to his unfortunate and noble cap- 
tives, is matter of historical record. It is the darkest 
page in the memoir of that wonderful chief — a foul blot 
upon the name even of that man, who was capable of 
requiting the superstitious reverence and confidence of 
a Montezuma, with a treacherous and inglorious cap- 
tivity in his own palace, and a yet more inglorious 
death at the hands of his own subjects. History must 
needs record it, dark and painful as it is. Romance 
would throw a veil over it. 



DESTINY FULFILLED. 189 

Years of intense suffering, of harrowing bereavement, 
of insult, humiliation, and every species of mental and 
social distress, were yet appointed to the daughter of 
Montezuma, the bride of Guatimozin. Her predicted 
destiny was fulfilled to the letter. She bowed meekly 
to her fate, sustaining every reverse with a fortitude and 
composure of soul, that indicated a mind of uncommon 
resources. It was a long, dark, stormy day, "but in 
the evening time there was light." It was the light of 
faith. She abandoned the false gods of her fathers^ 
and found true and lasting peace in the cross of Jesus 
Christ. 



THE FLIGHT 



THE KATAHBA CHIEF. 



Go now to Greece, 
Or Rome — to Albion's sea-girt isle — to Gaul, 
Ancient or modern — to the fiery realm 
Of Turk or Arab — to the ice-bound holds 
Of Alaric and Attila — and find, 
If find thou canst, a nobler race of men — 
More firm, more brave, more true — swifter of foot, 
Or readier in action. 



THE FLIGHT OF THE KATAHBA CHIEF. 



Go not to the chase, my brave hunter, to day, 
There's a mist o'er the sun — there's a snare in the way ; 
Manitto revealed last night in my dream 
A deep dark shadow o'erhanging the stream ; 
The deer, from his thicket, sprung out in thy path — 
Then he changed to a tiger, and roared in his wrath — 
Then the warrior hunter, so fearless and brave, 
Was driven away, like a captive slave ; 
Then the smoke rolled up, and the flames curled high, 
And the forest rung with the foeman's cry ; 
Then the wind swept by with a desolate wail — 
The avenger of blood was on thy trail; — 
Minaree looked out at the cabin door, 
But her bold brave hunter returned no more. 

Go not to the chase, my brave hunter, to-day, 
There's a mist o'er the sun — there's a snare in the way. 

So, in sweetly plaintive strains, chanted the beautiful 
young bride of a Katahba chief, as she prepared his 
frugal morning meal, while he was busying himself in 
examining the string of his bow, replenishing his quiver 
with straight polished shafts, and renewing the edge of 
his trusty hatchet. 

In all the forest homes of the native tribes, there was 
17 



194 MINAREE. 

not a fairer flower than Minaree, the loved and devoted 
wife of the brave Ash-te-o-lah. The only daughter of a 
chief of the Wateree tribe, which was one branch of 
the great family of the Katahbas, she inherited the 
spirit and pride of her father, with all the simple beauty, 
and unsophisticated womanly tenderness of her mother. 
She was the idol of Ash-te-o-lah's heart ; for, savage as 
the world would call him, and ignorant of the codes of 
chivalry and of the courtly phrase of love, he was as 
true to all the warmer and purer affections, which con- 
stitute the bliss of domestic life, as to the lofty senti- 
ments of heroic virtue, which made him early conspicu- 
ous in the councils of his people. Though fearless as 
the lion, fleet as the roe, and adventurous, sagacious 
and powerful as any that ever sounded the war-whoop, 
or startled the deer, in those interminable wilds — he 
was noble, generous, warm-hearted, and devotedly ten- 
der to the objects of his love. 

The winning tones, and the affectionate glances of 
Minaree, as she chanted her simple prophetic lay, had 
almost won Ash-te-o-lah from his purpose. But, half 
doubting whether her oracular dream was any thing 
more than a little artifice of affection, and always supe- 
rior to that prevailing superstition of his people, which 
gave to dreams all the sanctity and force of divine reve- 
lation, and excited by the preparations he had been 
making, he flung his rattling quiver to his back, whis- 
pered a gentle intimation that Ash-te-o-lah feared neither 
tiger nor foeman, and returning the affectionate glance 
of his bride, left the wigwam. 

It was a clear bright summer morning. There was 
a balmy sweetness in the air, and melody in all the 



THE KATAHBA VILLAGES. 195 

groves ; but they won not the ear, they regaled not the 
sense of Minaree, whose heart sunk within her, as she 
saw her beloved Ash-te-o-lah launch his canoe into the 
stream, and dash away over its glassy surface, like a 
swallow on the wing. Ere he dipped his paddle in the 
water, he turned and gracefully waved her a parting 
salute, the affectionate desire to stay and soothe the 
troubled spirit of her dream, still struggling with that 
lofty pride which told him that he had never yet shrunk 
from any form of danger, or known the name of fear. 

The lands bordering on the Katahba, were covered, 
for many a league, with a dense and thriving popula- 
tion. More than twenty tribes were clustered there 
into one powerful fraternity, capable of bringing two 
thousand warriors into the field. Their grounds were 
extensively cultivated, their forests abounded with the 
choicest game, and their rivers with fish, and they 
regarded themselves as the most prosperous of the 
nations. 

Nothing could exceed the romantic beauty and love- 
liness of some of their villages. Stretching along the 
banks of the rivers, and embowered deeply in the luxu- 
rious forests of that favored clime, the numerous wig- 
wams, simple enough in their construction, but adorned 
here and there with the trophies of. war or the chase, 
and often alive with the athletic sports of the young 
Indians, formed a scene as animated and picturesque 
as ever glowed on the bosom of the earth — a scene of 
patriarchal life, such as cannot now be found among 
all the families of men. 

Conspicuous among them all was the wigwam of 
Ash-te-o-lah. The hand of Minaree was visible in the 



196 THE CANOE. 

tasteful arrangement of a few simple ornaments about 
the door, and the trailing of a white flowering vine over 
its walls, which fell in luxuriant festoons, or floated in 
feathery pensiles on every side. 

Minaree stood in the door of the wigwam, watching 
the retreating form of her lord, as his light canoe swept 
down with the current of the river, till it was lost in the 
distance, and then pensively, and as if unconsciously to 
herself, resumed her solemn chant, weaving the while 
a wreath of her wild flowering vine. 

He has gone to the chase, my brave hunter has gone — 
He will not return in the moonlight, or morn ; 
Minaree shall look out at the cabin door, 
But her bold brave hunter shall come no more ; 
There's a cloud in her wigwam — a fire in her brain, 
For her warrior hunter shall ne'er come again 

Gently and placidly flowed the Katahba — every tree 
and shrub mirrored in its beautiful waters. Not a 
sound disturbed the perfect stillness ; not even the hum 
of the cricket, or the song of the bird. It seemed an 
utter solitude. Then a light canoe was seen slowly 
gliding down the stream. A noble looking Indian was 
standing in it, erect and tall, with his paddle poised, as 
if wrapped in meditation, or unwilling to disturb the 
quiet and charm of the silence. It was a scene to 
awaken a sense of poetic beauty, even in the mind of 
an untutored savage. It thrilled the soul of Ash-te-o-lah, 
and held him some moments in admiring contempla- 
tion. Suddenly starting from his unwonted reverie, he 
rounded a jutting promontory, and moored his skiff, 
carefully concealing it amid the overhanging shrubs. 



THE DEER THE FOE THE CHASE. 197 

There was something surpassingly graceful and 
majestic in the figure of this noble son of the forest. 
Formed by nature in her most perfect mould, tall, 
sinewy, athletic, yet with every feature and every limb 
rounded to absolute grace, he was a fine subject for a 
painter or sculptor. His dress consisted of a beautiful 
robe, gracefully flung over one shoulder, and confined 
at the waist by a richly ornamented belt. His hair was 
wrought into a kind of crown, and ornamented with a 
tuft of feathers. Equipped with bow and quiver, he 
seemed intent on game ; and yet one might have ima- 
gined, from his keen glance and cautious manner, that 
he expected a foe in ambush. 

Ash-te-o-lah was soon on the track of the deer, which, 
starting from the thicket, bounded away with the speed 
of the wind. Pursuing with equal pace, the bold hun- 
ter dashed into the depths of the forest, watching for a 
favorable moment to take the deadly aim. The arrow 
was on the string, and about to be raised to fly at his 
panting victim, when the shrill war-whoop burst sud- 
denly on his ear. It arrested his step, for a moment, 
but not his arm ; for the arrow sped as if nothing had 
occurred to divert its course, and buried itself in the 
heart of the flying deer. 

Perceiving, at a glance, that a party of the Senecas, 
the old and deadly enemies of the Katahbas, were down 
upon him, and had cut off his retreat to the river, he 
held on his course, as before, but with redoubled speed, 
intending, if possible, to secure a refuge from his pur- 
suers, in a cavern about five miles distant. Fleet as 
the wind, he would have gained his purpose, if the 
course had been direct, for there was not a red man in 

14* 



198 HE TURNS UPON HIS PURSUERS. 

the wide forests of America, who could outrun Ash-te- 
o-lah. Dividing themselves into several parties, and 
taking different courses to intercept his flight, his ene- 
mies gave instant chase to the fugitive. One party fol- 
lowed close on his trail, but he was soon lost to their 
view. Another struck off northwardly, towards a bend 
in the West Branch, where the rapids afforded an oppor- 
tunity for crossing the stream without impeding his 
flight. A third made for a deep cut, or ravine, about a 
mile further down, where a fallen tree, extending from 
bank to bank, served the purpose of a bridge. 

Ash-te-o-lah soon perceived that his enemies were 
divided, and resolved that, if they did intercept or over- 
take him, it should cost them dear. Halting a little in 
his flight, and taking to the covert of a tree, he drew 
upon the foremost of his pursuers, and laid him dead 
in the path. The next in the pursuit, pausing a 
moment over his fallen brother, shared the same fate. 
Knowing, as by instinct, that the other parties would 
endeavor to cut him off at the rapids and the bridge, he 
dashed forward, in a straight line for the stream, 
plunged into the water, and holding his bow aloft, 
struggled with a powerful arm to reach the other side. 
He gained the bank, just as his pursuers made their 
appearance on the opposite shore. Turning suddenly 
upon them, he levelled another shaft with such uner- 
ring aim, that one of their number fell bleeding into 
the stream. Another and another, in the act of leaping 
over the bank, received the fatal shaft into his heart. 
Hearing the distant whoop, which indicated that the 
other party had reached the bridge, Ash-te-o-lah waited 
not for another victim, but bounded away for his moun- 



A CAPTIVE. 199 

tain fastness. The little delay which had been neces- 
sary to cut off five of his pursuers, had given an advan- 
tage to the other parties, who were now on the same 
side of the stream with himself, and gaining upon his 
steps. No sooner was this perceived, than the heroic 
fugitive turned- upon the nearest of them, and, with the 
same infallible aim, laid him dead in the path. Still 
another had fallen before his sure aim, and his bow 
was strained for another shot, when one of the other 
party, who had made a circuit, and come up behind 
him unperceived, leaped upon, and held him pinioned 
in his powerful grasp. His struggles were terrible ; 
but he was immediately surrounded, overpowered and 
disarmed. 

Though seven of their number had fallen in this 
brief chase, the brave Senecas were so struck with 
admiration at the wonderful skill and noble bearing of 
their captive, that they did not, as usual, instantly 
avenge the slain, by taking the life of the slayer ; but 
resolved to take him along with them, and to lead him 
in triumph into the midst of the council of their nation, 
there to be disposed of by the united voices of their 
chiefs. 

It was a sad triumph, for they were filled with grief 
and mortification for the loss of so many of their brave 
kindred, all fallen by the hand of one of the hated 
Katahbas, and he now completely in their power. 
Though stung with shame, and thirsting for a worthy 
revenge, yet such was their love of martial virtue, that, 
during all their long journey homeward, they treated 
their haughty captive with far greater respect and kind- 
ness than if he had acted the part of a coward, and 



200 CONQUERED BUT NOT SUBDUED. 

suffered himself to fall into their hands without any 
attempt at resistance. As for him, with an unsubdued 
spirit, and an air of proud superiority, he marched in 
the midst of his enemies, as if defying their power, and 
scorning the vengeance from which it was impossible 
to escape. To one unaccustomed to the modes of 
Indian warfare, and the code of Indian etiquette, who 
might have witnessed that triumphant procession, Ash- 
te-o-lah would have appeared the proud and absolute 
prince, surrounded by his admiring and subservient 
life-guard, rather than the subdued and helpless captive, 
escorted by his enemies to an ignominious execution. 

Arrived within the territories of their own tribe, 
the triumph of the captors began. The whole nation 
was roused to revenge the death of their lost heroes. 
In every village, as they passed along, the women and 
children were permitted to beat and insult the unresist- 
ing captive, who bore every indignity with stoical indif- 
ference, and proud disdain, never indicating by word 
or look, the slightest sense of mortification or pain, nor 
bating one jot of his lofty and scornful bearing. 

Before the great council of assembled chiefs, he main- 
tained the same tone of fearless dignity and self-respect. 
His very look was defiance, that quailed not before the 
proudest glance of his enemy, nor showed the slightest 
symptom of disquietude, when the decision of the coun- 
cil was announced, condemning *him to die by the fiery 
torture. It might reasonably be imagined that his past 
sufferings, his tedious marches, his scanty fare, lying at 
night on the bare ground, exposed to the changes of the 
weather, with his arms and legs extended and cramped 
in a pair of rough stocks, the insulting treatment, and 



PREPARED FOR THE TORTURE. 201 

cruel scourgings of the exasperated women and chil- 
dren, who were taught to consider it a virtue to torment 
an enemy, along with the anticipation of those more 
bitter sufferings which he was yet to endure, would 
have impaired his health, and subdued his hitherto 
proud and unyielding spirit. Such would have been 
the effect of similar circumstances upon the physical 
frame, and stout-hearted fortitude of the great majority 
of the heroes of that pale-faced race, who boast of a 
proud superiority over the unlettered children of the 
forest. There are few so hardy, that they could endure, 
not only without a murmur, but without shrinking, 
what Ash-te-o-lah had already suffered — few so coura- 
geous, that they could hear, with an unmoved counte- 
nance, the terrible doom which his enemies had pre- 
pared for him, or witness undisturbed the fearful 
arrangements, and horrid ceremonies, that were designed 
to give intensity and effect to its infliction. 

Ash-te-o-lah was insensible to fear, and would sooner 
have undergone a thousand torturing deaths, than per- 
mit his enemies to see that he was conscious even of 
suffering. So nobly did he sustain his courage amid 
the trial, so well did he act his heroic part, that his 
enemies, who admired and inculcated the same unflinch- 
ing fortitude, were surprised and vexed at his lofty 
superiority, and resolved, by every possible aggravation 
of his sufferings, to brea\ . down and subdue his proud 
indomitable spirit. 

The hour of execution had arrived. The pile was 
ready for its victim. Every engine of torture, which 
savage ingenuity could invent, was exhibited in dread- 
ful array, within the area selected for the trying scene. 



202 UNEXPECTED ESCAPE. 

The whole nation was assembled to witness, and take 
part in the ceremony, which had, in their view, all the 
solemnity and sacredness of a religious rite. Ash-te-o- 
lah was led forth, unpinioned, into the midst — for the 
red man would scorn the weakness of leading a victim 
in chains to the altar. 

The place of sacrifice was an open space near the 
bank of the river, the dark forest frowning over it on 
every side, the entire foreground being filled and 
crowded with an eager, angry multitude, to whom a 
sacrifice was a feast, and revenge the sweetest luxury 
that could be offered to their taste. Their wild parade, 
their savage dances, their hideous yells and demoniacal 
looks and gestures, designed to terrify, only fired the 
soul of Ash-te-o-lah to a yet prouder and more majestic 
bearing. His firm step, his unblenching eye, his fear- 
less and lofty port, touched even his executioners with 
admiration, and struck his guards with a momentary 
awe. 

Suddenly, as with a bolt from the cloud, he dashed 
down those who stood in his way, sprung out, and 
plunged into the water, swimming underneath, like an 
otter, only rising occasionally to take breath, till he 
reached the opposite shore. He ascended the steep 
bank at a bound; and then, though the arrows had 
been flying thick as hail about him from the time that 
he took to the water, and though many of the fleetest 
of his enemies were, like very blood-hounds, close in 
pursuit of him, he turned deliberately around, and with 
a graceful and becoming dignity, took a formal leave 
of them, as if he would acknowledge the extraordinary 
favors they had shown him. Then, raising the shrill 



PURSUIT — A STRATAGEM. 203 

war-whoop of defiance, as his last salute, till some more 
convenient opportunity should be afforded him to do 
them a warrior's homage, he darted off, like a beast 
broke loose from its torturing enemies. Inspired with 
new strength by his sudden release, and the returning 
hope of life, he flew with a winged speed, so as entirely 
to distance the fleetest of his eager pursuers. Confident 
in his speed, and assured that his enemies could neither 
overtake nor surprise him, he rested nearly a whole 
day, to recruit his wasted strength, and watch an oppor- 
tunity to gain, if possible, some further advantage over 
those who were scenting his track, and thirsting for his 
blood. 

Passing a considerable distance beyond a spot, which 
his well-trained sagacity told him would be the natural 
resting place of his pursuers, he retraced his steps, 
walking carefully backwards, and planting each step 
with great precision, in the very tracks he had just 
made, so as effectually to conceal the artifice of his 
return. In this way, he came to a high rock, in which 
there was a considerable fissure, very narrow at the 
top, but widening toward the ground, and so concealed 
by the dense shrubbery that grew around, that it could 
only be discovered by the most careful scrutiny. Into 
this fissure he thrust himself, scrupulously replacing 
every leaf that had been disturbed by his entrance, and 
adjusting the whole so as not to excite the slightest sus- 
picion in his keen-sighted enemies. Here he awaited 
their approach. 

It was near night of the second day, when the Sene- 
cas reached the spring where Ash-te-o-lah lay concealed, 
and where he had already rested nearly a whole day. 



204 THE PURSUERS SURPRISED. 

Following his track some distance beyond, and not 
doubting he was yet in advance, they returned without 
suspicion to the spring, lighted their fires, partook has- 
tily of their simple meal, and laid themselves down to 
sleep, in perfect security, They were five in number, 
powerful men, and thoroughly armed, after their own 
peculiar fashion. Ash-te-o-lah, from his narrow cavern, 
had watched all their movements. He well knew that 
they slept soundly, for they had satisfied themselves 
that no danger was near. But he also knew equally 
well how wakeful is the sleep of an Indian, and how 
almost impossible it is to surprise him, even in his 
soundest sleep. Every circumstance of his situation 
occurred to him, to inspire him with heroism, and urge 
him to attempt an impossibility, though his life was the 
certain forfeit of a failure. He was naked, torn, and 
hungry. His enraged enemies, who had so recently 
held him in their toils, and made him ready for a sacri- 
fice, were now come up with him. In their little camp 
was every thing to relieve his wants. He would not 
only save his own life, but get great honor and sweet 
revenge, if he should succeed in cutting them off. 
Resolution, a convenient spot, and a sudden surprise, 
might effect this main object of all his wishes and 
hopes. Creeping cautiously out from his covert, and 
approaching the sleepers with the noiseless and stealthy 
cunning of a fox, he seized one of their tomahawks, 
and wielding it with inconceivable power and rapidity, 
left four of them in an eternal sleep, before the fifth had 
time to awake and spring to his feet. The struggle 
that ensued was terrible ; but Ash-te-o-lah had the 
advantage in every respect, and the conflict ended in a 



very few minutes, by leaving him alone in the camp 
of his enemies. 

Selecting from the spoils of the fallen a suitable 
dress for himself, with the choicest of their bows, a 
well-stored quiver, a tomahawk, and an ample pouch 
of provisions, and securing to his belt the scalps of his 
yet breathing victims, Ash-te-o-lah set off afresh, with 
a light heart, and a bounding step, for the sunny vales 
of the Katahba. Resolved not to hazard any of the 
advantage he had gained, he did not allow himself any 
sleep, for several successive nights, only as he reclined, 
for a few moments, a little before day, with his back 
to a tree, and a clear space about him, where he could 
not be taken by surprise. Growing more secure, as he 
approached his home, and discovered no sign of his 
pursuing enemy, he sought out the spot where he had 
killed seven of the chase, in the first day of his flight, 
opened their yet fresh graves, added their scalps to the 
five then hanging to his belt, burnt their bodies to 
ashes, and returned in safety, laden with his hard 
earned trophies, to gladden his humble wigwam, and 
thrill the council of his people with the story of his 
singular adventures. 

Her prophetic dream had made so deep an impres- 
sion upon the mind of Minaree, that, from the first, she 
did not expect " the bold hunter's return." His length- 
ened absence troubled, but did not surprise her. She 
yielded him to a stern fate, from which there was no 
escape ; and with a calmess which we, of another race, 
too often regard as coldness and insensibility, prepared 
to follow him to the spirit land. His return was to her 
soul like a visit from that land — a gift from the Great 

18 



206 THE CHASE ABANDONED. 

Spirit — and ever after, to the deep devotion of her early- 
love, was added that peculiar reverence, that tender, 
holy affection, which the Indians every where cherish 
for the departed. 

When the second party of the Senecas, in the course 
of the third day of the pursuit, arrived at the camp of 
their slaughtered people, the sight gave them a greater 
shock than they had ever known before. In their 
chilled war council they concluded, that he who had 
performed such surprising feats in his defence, before 
he was captured, and since that in his naked and 
unarmed condition, would, now that he was well 
armed and free, be a match for them all, if they should 
continue the pursuit. They regarded him as a wizard 
enemy, whose charmed life it was vain and wicked to 
attempt. They, accordingly, buried their comrades, 
and returned, with heavy hearts, to their homes. 



MONICA, 



THE ITEAN CAPTIVE 



What glorious hopes, what gloomy fears 

Have sun"k "beneath time's noiseless tide !- 
The red man at his horrid rite, 

Seen by the stars at night's cold noon, — 
His hark canoe, its track of light 

Left on the wave beneath the moon ; — 
His dance, his yell, his council fire, 

The altar "where his victim lay, 
His death song, and his funeral pyre. 

That still, strong tide hath borne away, 



MONICA 



" Sjieaft not, fcutflg— 
2H)ere ate a ttjousauti toinjjeto TJeatJjs bejrfnfc, 
Strfrstfnjj for fclootr. S^ope, life, antr Ifljertg 
&re all before ; antt tfcts fiooti arm In pletijjeTJ 
5To fluttie tfjee." 

The grave of the Indian is a temple, a sort of gateway 
to heaven. Around it linger the tenderest affection, the 
purest devotion of the surviving friend. The grass and 
flowers that grow over it are never suffered to wither. 
The snow and the rain are not permitted to remain 
upon it. The least profanation of that sacred place 
would be visited with a more terrible vengeance than 
an affront to the living. Nothing illustrates more 
clearly the cruel injustice we have done to our red 
brethren of the forest, by regarding and treating them 
only as savages, and delineating them always and 
every where, as destitute of all the refined sympathies 
of humanity — than this prevailing national character- 
istic, an affectionate reverence for the dead, and a 
religious regard for the sepulchres and bones of their 
ancestors. It touches one of the deepest cords in the 
human heart. It springs from the very fountain head 

18* 



210 INDIAN BURIAL. 

of social and moral refinement. It links the visible 
and material, with the unseen and spiritual world; 
blending all that is tender, and pure, and subduing, in 
the one, with all that is bright, hopeful, and inviting, in 
the other. Its existence in any heart, or its prevalence 
among any people, is proof sufficient that that heart is 
not wholly hardened in selfishness, and that people not 
wholly given over to barbarism. 

The infant child of an Itean mother lay dead in her 
tent. He was a beautiful boy, and already the fond 
mother had read in his brilliant eye, and the vigorous 
movements of his tiny limbs, the heroic deeds of the 
future chieftain. But her darling hope was nipped in the 
very germ. Her only son was shrouded for the grave, 
and the hour of burial had come. His shroud was a 
blanket, in which the head, as well as the body, was 
completely enveloped. His bier was a train, or Indian 
sled, in the form of a common snow-shoe, on which the 
body was laid, without a coffin, and secured by ban- 
dages from side to side. Into this train was harnessed a 
favorite dog of the family, when it was drawn with slow 
and solemn step, to the grave, preceded by the priest 
or medicine man of the village, in his gorgeous robes 
of office, and followed by the parents and sister of the 
child, with all the inmates of the neighboring wigwams. 

Arriving at the grave, the procession stopped, and 
gathered round the bier, the women and children seat- 
ing or prostrating themselves on the ground, the men 
standing in a grave and solemn circle around them. 
The dog, still remaining in his harness, was then shot, 
and the medicine man, standing over it, addressed it in 
the following strain. " Go on your journey to the 



JOURNEY TO THE SPIRIT LAND MEMENTOES. 211 

Spirit land. Long and weary is the way you have to 
go. Linger not on the journey, for precious is the bur- 
den you carry. Swim swiftly over the river, lest the 
little one be lost in the stream, and never visit the camp 
of its fathers. When you come to the camp of the 
White-headed Eagle, bark, that they may know who 
it is you bring, and come out and welcome the little 
one among its kindred band." 

The body was then laid in the grave, on its little 
train. The dog was placed by its side, with a kettle of 
food at its head, to supply it on the journey. A cup, 
containing a portion of the mother's milk, freshly drawn, 
was also put into the grave for the use of the child. 
The earth was laid gently over it, and covered with the 
fresh sod, the mother, and her female friends, chanting, 
the while, a plaintive dirge, designed to encourage the 
spirit of the departed on its dark and perilous journey. 
The mother held in her hand a roll of bark, elaborately 
decorated with feathers and bead-work, encompassed 
with a scarf of broadcloth, highly embroidered. This 
was intended as a memento of the deceased, to be 
sacredly preserved in the family lodge. Such memen- 
toes are always seen there, after the death of a friend, 
and one may always know, by their number, how many 
of that household have gone to the spirit-land. It is 
usually placed upright in the spot where the departed 
was accustomed to sit, dressed in the same ornaments 
and bands that he wore while living. At every family 
meal, a portion of food is set before it. If it be a child 
who has died, the mother offers it a cup of milk, wraps 
it in the cradle bands of her lost infant, and bears it 
about with her wherever she goes. 



212 THE GRAVE — THE ITEAN ENCAMPMENT. 

An Indian grave is a protected spot. That which is 
described above, was surrounded by a small enclosure 
of logs, and covered with a roof of bark, to shield it 
from the rain. At its head, a small round post was set, 
painted with vermilion. Other decorations were dis- 
played upon the wall of the enclosure, which were care- 
fully guarded, and frequently replaced, as they were 
soiled by the rains, or torn and defaced by the violence 
of the winds. Day after day, the bereaved mother and 
sister visited that grave, taking their work with them, 
and sitting down by its side, chanted their plaintive 
lullaby to that sleeping infant, and cheered on that 
faithful dog in his wearisome journey, charging him 
not to lag or go astray in traversing the plain, nor suffer 
his precious burden to fall into the water, in crossing 
the deep dark rapid river to the spirit land. 

Weeks and months had passed since that humble 
grave was made, and that precious treasure confided to 
its bosom. It was a calm glorious evening in mid- 
summer. The moon shone brightly on the Itean 
encampment. There was not, in the whole valley of 
the west, a more beautiful spot for a settlement. The 
smooth open green-sward was closely surrounded with 
trees on three sides. On the other, the land gradually 
sloped towards the river, which flowed quietly by, ever 
and anon sparkling in the moonbeams, or reflecting the 
dark forest and flowery banks in its azure depths. 

The wigwams in the opening were all closed. Their 
inmates were at rest. Presently, the buffalo-skin, that 
served as a door to the principal cabin, was drawn 
aside, and the beautiful daughter of the chief emerged 
into the light, and passed swiftly on to the river. Fol- 



A SISTER'S GRIEF HER DREAM. 213 

lowing its course a short distance, by the narrow path 
that threaded the woods on its bank, she came to the 
little grave, threw herself on the earth by its side, and 
wept. It was Monica, the sister of that buried infant, 
the same whom we saw at his grave when it was first 
opened, and who had daily, since that time, sung over 
it her simple song. 

The grief and disappointment of the mother, in the 
loss of her only son, was not more deep or sincere, or 
enduring, than that of this affectionate and devoted sis- 
ter. From the moment of his birth, he was the idol of 
her soul. She looked forward to the time, in her ardent 
imagination very near at hand, when, emulating the 
virtues and deeds of his father, he should become the 
noblest chief of his tribe. She had pictured to herself 
the many wonderful exploits he should achieve, and 
the love and veneration with which he would be 
regarded throughout the nation. But now, those hopes 
were blasted, those visions had all faded into darkness. 
Time had not soothed her disappointment, or softened 
the poignancy of her grief. Waking or sleeping, the 
image of her lost brother was before her. She longed 
to follow him, that she might overtake him on the way, 
and help him in his passage over that fearful stream. 

She had laid down that night, as usual, and slept by 
the side of her mother. Her dreams were troubled. 
She thought that arid plain and dark river were before 
her. The faithful dog was struggling with the waves. 
The little ark which held that precious treasure, was 
buffeted about by the winds. Chilled with the cold, 
and terrified by the dark howling storm, the lone child 
sobbed bitterly, and looked imploringly round for his 



214 AT THE GRAVE ON THE STREAM. 

mother. In her distress and agitation, she awoke. 
Unable to sleep, or even to rest, she rose, and ran to the 
grave. 

"I come, I come, my precious one, 

I am ever by your side — 
Fear not, your voyage is almost done 

Over that dismal tide ; 
The winds shall hush, the storm pass o'er, 

And a friendly band shall come 
To meet you on the spirit shore, 

And bid you welcome home. 
Fear not, for love that never sleeps 

Shall guard you o'er that wave ; 
And mother her constant vigil keep 

Beside your quiet grave." 

Having chanted her simple lay of love, Monica turned 
from the grave, stepped into a canoe, and paddled down 
the stream. Overcome with grief, she dropped her pad- 
dle, sat pensively down in her shallop, and left it to fol- 
low its course down the current. For several hours it 
glided silently on. She gave no heed to the hours, till 
morning broke in the east. Suddenly starting up from 
her long dream, she looked for her paddle. It was gone. 
Seeing a bough floating on the water near her, she 
leaned out to catch it, as the canoe passed on. It was 
decayed, and broke in her hand. Throwing it from 
her, she looked eagerly about for some other means of 
reaching the shore. At length, passing under the 
shadow of an immense tree, that overhung the stream, 
she seized a branch that almost dipped into the water, 
and drawing herself in to the bank, sprang on shore. 

Slowly and doubtfully the timid girl threaded the 



A CAPTIVE — VICTIM TO THE GREAT STAR. 215 

thick forest, scarcely knowing which way to turn. 
Hoping to find some friendly wigwam near, she sounded 
the shrill call of her tribe. The call was instantly 
answered, but not by a friendly voice. Two stern and 
stalwart warriors of the Pawnee tribe, who were deadly 
enemies to the Iteans, chanced to be passing that way, 
and, recognizing the call as that of an enemy, sprang 
from the thicket, seized the trembling maiden, and bore 
her away in triumph. Many a weary league she 
travelled on by the side of her merciless captors, ere she 
reached their distant encampment. Worn, exhausted 
in strength and desponding in heart, she fell to the earth 
in the midst of the throng that gathered around her, 
and besought them to kill her at once, and let her go to 
her poor infant brother. 

The Pawnees were not only hostile to the Iteans, but 
were, in some respects, the most savage tribe in the 
great valley. They alone, of the North American 
Indians, continued, down the present century, and far 
within it, to practice the savage rite of sacrificing 
human victims on the altar of their gods. With them 
it was a propitiatory sacrifice, offered to the Great Star, 
or the planet Venus. This dreadful ceremony annually 
preceded the preparations for planting corn, and was 
supposed to be necessary to secure a fruitful season. 
The victim was always some prisoner, who had been 
captured in war, or otherwise; and there was never 
wanting an individual who coveted the honor of making 
a captive from some hostile tribe, and dedicating the 
spoils of his prowess to the national benefit. 

The captors of Monica were in quest of a victim for 
this sacrifice, when they wandered away alone, and 



216 PREPARING FOR THE SACRIFICE. 

prowled for several days, about the encampment of her 
tribe. With this view, they bore her away in triumph, 
deaf to all her entreaties and tears, and gave her in 
charge to the priests, to be made ready against the 
return of the season. 

The best wigwam in the village was assigned for 
her accommodation. Cheerful companions of her own 
age were given her. The most sedulous attention was 
paid to her wants. She was dressed in gay apparel, 
continually feasted on the choicest luxuries which their 
fields and hunting grounds afforded, and treated with 
the utmost tenderness by all about her. Every possi- 
ble means was employed to allay her grief, and promote 
that cheerfulness of spirit, which is essential to health 
and comeliness, in order that she might thus be made 
a more suitable and acceptable offering. 

The personal charms of Monica required no such 
system of treatment, in order to their full development. 
She was a rare specimen of native grace and loveliness, 
and would have been a fitting model, in every feature 
and limb, for a Phidias or a Praxitiles. The exceed- 
ing beauty and gentleness of their captive, while it won 
the admiration and regard of all her young companions, 
only made her, in the view of the priests and chiefs of 
the tribe, a more desirable victim for the altar. 

For a long time, Monica was inconsolable. Deprived 
of that dearest privilege of visiting daily the grave of 
her brother, distracted in view of the anxiety which 
her mother would feel for her, she refused to be com- 
forted, or to take any pleasure in the means employed 
to amuse her. Time and kindness, however, and the 
promise that she should, by and by ? return to her 



GATHERING TO THE FESTIVAL. 217 

father-land, restored, in a degree, her serenity of mind. 
She was too affectionate and confiding, to reject the 
sympathy and kindness even of an enemy. Grateful 
for the unwearied efforts which her companions made 
to amuse and comfort her, she came, at last, to regard 
them as friends. Gratitude begat affection. Affection 
created confidence. She unburdened her heart of the 
sorrows that oppressed it. By that effort, the burden 
was lightened. Something of the elasticity and vivacity 
of youth returned. She sang and played, if not to 
amuse herself, yet to gratify others, whose assiduous 
kindness, and seemingly generous sympathy, she had 
no other means of repaying. Thus, entirely ignorant 
of the terrible doom that awaited her, Monica passed 
the winter of her captivity, looking ever forward to the 
opening spring as the period of her promised release, 
and return to the wigwam of her mother. 

At length the fatal day arrived, and every thing was 
ready for the sacrifice. The whole Pawnee tribe was 
assembled to witness and take part in the solemnities. 
From every side, they were seen emerging from the 
thick forest, or gliding noiselessly over the bosom of the 
silver stream, leaping from cliff to cliff of the distant 
hills, or winding down their steep passes and narrow 
defiles, to meet in the great central village, around the 
grand council fire of the nation. The whole tribe was 
there — the chiefs in all their gaudy array of bead- work, 
feathers, and paint, their embroidered moccasins, their 
gaily wrought tunics and belts, their polished rifles, and 
glittering tomahawks — the women and children, and 
the rank and file of the people, in all the finery and 
gewgaws they could command. It was a brave sight to 

19 



218 THE VICTIM AT THE STAKE. 

those accustomed to the barbaric finery and wild sports 
of the Indian, but fearful and hideous to one unused to 
the rude painted visages and half naked forms of the 
warriors. 

The awful hour of those dreadful orgies was 
announced by all those discordant shouts and hideous 
yells, which, with those primitive races, serve the pur- 
pose of trumpet, drum and bell. The stake was set, 
and the faggots made ready, in the centre of the great 
opening. The priests stood at their post, and the vast 
multitude of eager excited witnesses thronged around, 
waiting in terrible expectation for the consummation of 
that horrid rite, and kindling into phrenzy in view of 
the mad revelry that would follow. Presently, the outer 
ranks of that crowding circle made way, and opened a 
passage to the ring within. Through this living ave- 
nue, a company of chiefs marched in, singing, or rather 
shouting, a wild song, and dancing in fantastic mea- 
sures. At their head was the captor of Monica, lead- 
ing the timid girl by the hand. She was arrayed in 
the most showy and expensive style of Indian costume, 
the various decorations of her person comprising all that 
was beautiful and rare in ornament, according to the 
uncultivated taste of that people. Unconscious still of 
the doom that awaited her, and hoping, perhaps, that 
this was to be the festival of her freedom, when she 
would be sent away in peace to her home, she entered 
the circle with a cheerful face, and an elastic step, 
smiling on her young companions as she passed, and 
wondering at the cold look, or sometimes averted eye, 
with which her salutation was answered. 

It was not until she was led quite up to the stake, 



THE RESCUE. 219 

and saw the fearful faggots piled around it, that she 
comprehended the meaning of these mysterious prepa- 
rations. Her awful doom flashed upon her, like a bolt 
from heaven. With one loud, piercing, heart-rending 
shriek, she fell to the earth, and called upon her mother. 
She was lifted up by the stern priest, placed upon the 
pile, and bound to the stake. With wild incantations, 
and horrid yells, the dread orgies were commenced. 
The torch was lighted, and ready to be applied. At 
that instant, a shrill whoop burst from the adjoining 
wood. A brave young warrior, leaping into the midst 
of the circle, rushed to the stake, cut the cords that 
bound the helpless victim, tore her away from the pile, 
and, dashing back through the panic-struck crowd, 
flung her upon a fleet horse which he had prepared for 
the occasion, sprung himself upon another, and was 
soon lost in the distant windings of the wood. 

It was the act of a moment. Even the Indian 
warriors, who are not easily surprised, or put off their 
guard, were confounded and paralysed. Before they 
could comprehend the object of this sudden phantom, 
this rash interruption of their festival, their victim was 
gone. The bare stake, and the useless heap of faggots 
were there. The proud chief, who furnished the vic- 
tim, and the fierce-looking priests, who were to officiate 
in the dark rites of the sacrifice, stood in blank aston- 
ishment around, as if a bolt from the cloud had smitten 
them. A momentary silence prevailed among that 
mighty throng. A low murmur succeeded, like the dis- 
tant moans of a coming storm : then, like the tempest, 
bursting in all its wrath, fierce cries of vengeance from 
a thousand flaming tongues, furious discordant yells 



220 THE FLIGHT. 

and shouts, accompanied with frantic gestures, and 
looks of rage, such as would distort the visage of a 
fiend. Some of the fleetest started off in hot but vain 
pursuit. Those who remained, promised themselves 
a day of terrible retribution. The mothers secretly re- 
joiced in the escape ; while those of the young girls who 
had been the chosen companions of the captive, gave 
vent to their joy and gratitude in wild songs and dances. 

In this manner, that turbulent assembly broke up. 
Without the usual feast and its accompanying games, 
they scattered to their several homes, coolly meditating 
revenge, and darkly foreboding the famine that should 
ensue from the absence of the accustomed sacrifice. 

Meanwhile, the fugitives held on their way, with the 
speed of the wind. Not a word was spoken. It was a 
race of life and death, and every faculty of the rescuer 
as well as of the rescued was absorbed in the one idea 
and eifort to escape. Over hill and plain, and shallow 
stream, those foaming steeds flew on, pausing not even 
to snuff the breeze, till they had cleared the territory of 
the Pawnees, and reached a sheltered nook within the 
precincts of a neutral tribe. Here, as among all the 
Indian tribes the woman is considered competent to 
take care of herself in all ordinary emergencies, her 
deliverer left her, giving her ample directions for the 
way, and cautioning her to use the utmost diligence to 
avoid pursuit. 

" But, tell me first," she cried, tears of grateful joy 
standing in her eyes, " tell me to whom I am indebted 
for this miraculous escape — that, in all my prayers to 
the Great Spirit, I may call down his blessing upon 
your head." 



THE PARTING. 221 

"I am Petalesharro," replied the youth, modestly. 
" My father is Latalashaw, the chief of my tribe. We 
do not believe, with our people, that the Great Spirit 
delights in the sacrifice. He loves all his red children, 
and they should all love one another." 

" Bat, will not your chiefs revenge upon your head 
this interference with their solemn rites? If any 
national calamities follow, will they not charge them 
all to your account ? I could not bear that my gener- 
ous deliverer should be struck down by those terrible 
hands, in the prime of his youth, as the reward of his 
heroic benevolence. Better that I should return and 
submit to the fate they had prepared for me." 

" Fear not for me, Monica. Petalesharro fears not 
to meet the assembled council of his nation. Not a 
brave among them all will raise a hand to hurt him. 
He will make them know that the Great Star needs not 
the blood of the captive. And never again shall the 
fires be kindled for that cruel sacrifice." 

Encouraged by the words of the young chief, Monica 
turned, with a strong heart, towards her home, still 
some four hundred miles distant. The same kind pro- 
vidence which had rescued her from the devouring 
flames, still guided and guarded her solitary way, and 
gave her strength and spirits for her toilsome journey. 

On the second day of her pilgrimage, as she climbed 
the summit of a range of hills that ran athwart, her 
path, she was alarmed by the appearance of a consider- 
able body of armed men, just emerging from a distant 
ravine of the same range, in a direction that would lead 
them immediately across her path. They were too far 
off to enable her to discern, by their dress and accoutre- 

19* 



222 THE LOST FOUND. 

ments, to what tribe they belonged. She supposed they 
must be Pawnees in pursuit of their lost captive. Tf 
she attempted to pass on before them, they would dis- 
cover her track, and soon overtake her flight. She had 
nothing to do, therefore, but wait till they had passed, 
in the hope of eluding their eager scent. Concealing 
herself in the thicket, in a position that overlooked the 
valley, she awaited with composure the coming of that 
fearful band. They descended into the valley, and, to 
the utter consternation of Monica, began to pitch their 
tents under the shade of a spreading oak, on the bank 
of a little stream. She watched the movement with an 
anxious heart, not knowing how she should escape, 
with a pursuing enemy so near. Her consternation and 
anxiety were soon, however, changed to joy, when one 
of the company, approaching the vicinity of her hiding 
place, to cut a pole for his tent, was recognized as a 
chief of her own tribe. Springing from the thicket with 
a scream of delight, which startled the whole encamp- 
ment, and brought every brave to his feet, with his 
hand on the trigger of his rifle, she rushed into the 
midst of her astonished people, and was received with 
silent joy, as one restored from the dead. Under their 
protection, the remainder of her journey was safely and 
easily performed. Before the moon, which was then 
crescent, had reached her full, Monica had embraced 
her mother, and added a fresh flower to the grave of 
her brother. 

The brave, the generous, the chivalrous Petalesharro 
returned to his father's tent with the fearless port and 
composed dignity of one whose consciousness of recti- 
tude placed him above fear. He was a young man, 



PETALESHARRO. 223 

just entered upon manhood, and a general favorite of 
his tribe.* His countenance, as represented in Col. 
McKenney's magnificent work upon the North Ameri- 
can tribes, is one of uncommon beauty of feature. In 

* Major Long, in his " Expeditions to the Rocky Mountains," thus 
describes Petalesharro, as he appeared in his native wilds, and among his 
own people, in the full costume which he wore on the occasion of some 
great festival of his tribe. 

" Almost from the beginning of this interesting fete, our attention had 
been attracted to a young man, who seemed to be the leader or partisan of 
the warriors. He was about twenty-three years of age, of the finest form, 
tall, muscular, exceedingly graceful, and of a most prepossessing counte- 
nance. His head-dress, of war-eagles' feathers, descended in a double 
series upon his back, like wings, down to his saddle-croup ; his shield was 
highly decorated, and his long lance by a plaited casing of red and blue 
cloth. On enquiring of the interpreter, our admiration was augmented by 
learning that he was no other than Petalesharro, with whose name and 
character we were already familiar. He is the most intrepid warrior of 
the nation, the eldest son of Letalashaw, and destined, as well by mental 
and physical qualifications, as by his distinguished birth, to be the future 
leader of his people." 

Petalesharro visited Washington in 1821, where his fine figure and coun- 
tenance, and his splendid costume attracted every eye. But there was that 
in his history and character, which had gone before him, that secured for 
him a worthier homage than that of the eye. His act of generous chivalry 
to the Itean captive was the theme of every tongue. The ladies of the city 
caused an appropriate medal to be prepared, commemorating the noble 
deed, and presented it to him, in the presence of a large assemblage of 
people, who took a lively interest in the ceremony. In reply to their com- 
plimentary address, the brave young warrior modestly said — " My heart is 
glad. The white woman has heard what I did for the captive maid, and 
they love me, and speak well of me, for doing it. I thought but little of it 
before. It came from my heart, as the breath from my body. I did not 
know that any one would think better of me for that. But now I am glad 
For it is a good thing to be praised by those, who only praise that which is 
good." 



224 THE BLOODY RITE ABOLISHED. 

its mildness of expression, it is almost effeminate. But 
in heart and soul he was a man and a hero. His cour- 
age, and the power of his arm, were acknowledged by- 
friend and foe ; and on the death of his father, he was 
raised to the chieftaincy of his tribe. The season which 
followed his noble act of humane, may we not say reli- 
gious chivalry, was one of uncommon fertility, health 
and prosperity. " The Great Star" had not demanded 
the victim. And the Pawnees never again polluted 
their altars with the blood of a human sacrifice. 



TULA, 



OR 



THE HERMITESS OP ATHABASCA 



I thought to be alone. It might not be ! 
There is no solitude in thy domains, 
Save what man mates, -when in his selfish breast, 
He locks his jots, and bars out others' grief. 



TULA 



ISeat!) fs not all- 
Wot frnlf t&e aflonj toe suffer liere : 
S&e cup of life j)as otujjs, more oftter far, 
STJmt must 6e tirafneH. 

That solitary wigwam, in the outskirts of the village, 
was the home of Kaf-ne-wa-go, an aged Chippeway war- 
rior, who had weathered the storms, and outlived the 
wars, of three score and ten seasons, and was yet as fiery 
in the chase, and as mighty and terrible in battle, as any 
of the young chiefs of his tribe. His voice in the coun- 
cil was, like the solemn tones of an oracle, listened to 
with a reverence approaching to awe, and never disre- 
garded. His sons all inherited the spirit of their father, 
and distinguished themselves among the braves in 
fight, and the sages in council. Three of them fell in 
battle. One was principal chief of the western division 
of the Chippeway family. Another, the brave Ish-ta- 
le-ah, occupied the first in that group of wigwams in 
yonder grove, about a hundred yards from his father's. 
The only daughter of the good old sachem, the child 
of his old age, and " the light of his eyes," was the 
fairest and loveliest wild-flower, that ever sprung up 



228 TULA. 

amid the interminable wildernesses of the Western 
World. Tula, the singing bird, was distinguished 
among the daughters of the forest, not only for those 
qualities of person and character which are recog- 
nized as graces among the Indians, but for some of 
those peculiar refinements of feeling and manner, which 
are supposed to be the exclusive product of a civilized 
state of society. She was remarkable for the depth and 
tenderness of her affection, and for her ingenuity, indus- 
try and taste. Her dress, and those of her father and 
brother, exhibited the traces of her delicate handiwork ; 
while the neat and tasteful arrangement of the humble 
cabin, superior in all that makes home comfortable and 
pleasant to any in the village, bore testimony to her 
industry and skill. 

Tula had many suitors. There was scarce a young 
brave in the tribe who did not seek or desire her. But 
O-ken-ah-ga, the only son of their great chief, won her 
heart. She became his bride, but she remained, with 
him and their first-born child, in the tent of her aged 
parents, who could not live, as they said, " when the 
singing bird, the light of their eyes was gone." 



It was mid-summer. The night was still, clear, and 
lovely. All nature seemed to breathe nothing but calm- 
ness and peace. But the heart of man — how often and 
how sadly is it at variance with nature ! The inmates 
of that humble wigwam were alL wrapped in a pro- 
found sleep, not dreaming of danger near. The infant, 
nestling in his mother's bosom, by a sudden start roused 






REVENGE. 229 

her to partial consciousness. A deep groan, as of one 
in expiring agonies, awakened all her faculties. She 
sprung up and called upon her husband — 

" O-ken-ah-ga, what is the matter?" 

Another deep groan, and a stifled yell of triumph, 
was the only answer. 

Staring wildly round, what a scene of horror met her 
eyes ! Her father, her mother, her husband, pierced 
with many wounds, and weltering in their yet warm 
blood, lay dead before her ; while a band of fierce and 
terrible enemies, of the Athapuscow tribe, stood ovei 
them, with the reeking instruments of death in their 
hands, their eyes gleaming with savage delight, and 
their whole faces distorted with the most fiend -like 
expression of rage and triumph. With the true instinct 
of a mother, she clasped her infant to her breast, and 
bowed her head in silence, utterly unable to give any 
utterance to the bitterness of her wo. It was this silence 
that saved her and her child from an instant participa- 
tion in the fate of the mangled ones around her. The 
first word spoken, would have brought down that reek- 
ing tomakawk upon their heads. The Athapuscows 
were few in number, and their only safety consisted in 
doing their work of revenge with secrecy and despatch, 
for the Chippeways were many and powerful, and to 
disturb the slumbers of one of them would be to rouse 
the whole tribe in a moment. 

The work of death was done. The scalps of their 
victims hung dripping at the belts of the murderers, and 
the spoils of the cabin were secured. The spoilers 
turned to depart, and Tula, in obedience to their word, 
without complaint or remonstrance, rose and followed 

20 



230 GOING INTO CAPTIVITY. 

them. Gathering up a few necessary articles, among 
which she contrived to conceal her babe, she took one 
farewell look upon the loved ones, whom death had so 
suddenly and fearfully claimed, and left them, and the 
home of her youth, for ever. 

With cautious stealthy steps, the murderous band 
plunged into the deep forest, threading their way 
through its intricate mazes ; with inconceivable skill 
and sagacity, till they reached an opening, on the bank 
of the Wapatoony river, where a considerable detach- 
ment of their tribe was temporarily encamped. Deliv- 
ering their prisoner into the hands of the women, the 
braves proceeded at once to the council of the chiefs, to 
show their trophies, and relate the incidents of their 
scout. 

When the Athapuscow women, in examining the 
contents of the poor captive's bundle, discovered the still 
sleeping infant, they seized him as they would have 
done a viper, and dashed him on the ground. In vain 
did the fond mother plead for her child. In vain did 
the voice of nature, and a mother's instinct in their own 
bosoms, plead for the innocent. It was an enemy's 
child, a hated Chippeway, and that was enough to stifle 
every other feeling in their hearts, and make even " an 
infant of days" an object of intense and implacable 
hatred. With the Indian, the son of an enemy is an 
enemy, doomed only to death or torture. The daughter 
may be spared for slavery or sacrifice. 



THE OUTRAGE DISCOVERED. 231 

The morning dawned with uncommon brilliancy and 
beauty upon the Chippeway village, and warriors and 
children were astir with the earliest light, some to fish 
in the smooth stream, that, like a silver chain, bound 
their two beautiful lakes together — some to look after 
the traps they had set over-night — some to prepare for 
the hunt — and some for the merry games and athletic 
sports of the village. The quick eye of Ish-ta-le-6-wah 
soon discovered that all was not right in the tent of his 
father. Kaf-ne-wah-go was not abroad, as usual, with 
his net in the stream. O-ken-ah-ga was not seen 
among the hunters with his bow, nor among the wrest- 
lers on the green. No smoke was seen curling among 
the branches of the old tree that overshadowed his 
mother's tent. All was still as the house of the dead. 

" Why sleep the brave so long, when the light of day 
is already on the hill-top, and coming down upon the 
valley. Has the snake crept into the tent of Kaf-ne- 
wah-go, and charmed the father with the children ? I 
must go and see." 

The loud and piercing yell of Ish-ta-le-6-wah, as he 
looked in upon that desolate wigwam, roused the whole 
village, like the blast of a trumpet. The counsellors 
and braves of the nation were soon on the spot. The 
whole scene was understood in a moment, as clearly as 
if a written record of the whole had been left behind. 
Pursuit, and the recovery of the captive Tula and her 
child, were instantly resolved ; and, ere the sun had 
surmounted the eastern barrier of their beautiful valley, 
Ish-ta-le-6-wah, with a band of chosen braves, was on 
the trail of the foe. 

With the keen eye and quick scent of a blood-hound, 



232 FOLLOWING A TRAIL. 

they followed the almost obliterated track, through 
forest and brake, through swamp and dingle, over hill 
and prairie, till it was lost on the border of the Atha- 
basca lake. Though the party in retreat was large, so 
well were they all trained in the Indian tactics of flight 
and concealment, that it required a most experienced 
eye to keep on their track. They had marched, 
according to custom, in Indian file, each carefully walk- 
ing in the steps of the other, so that, to an unpractised 
observer, there would appear to have been but one way- 
farer in the path. Wherever it was practicable, the path 
was carried over rocks, or the soft elastic mosses, or 
through the bed of a running brook, with the hope of 
eluding the pursuer. But no artifice of the Athapuscow 
could elude the well-trained eye of the Chippeway. He 
would instantly detect the slightest trace of a footstep 
on the ground, or the passage of a human body through 
the thicket. In one place, the edges of the moss had 
been torn, or a blade of grass trampled in upon it ; in 
another, the small stones of the surface had been dis- 
placed, showing sometimes the fresh earth, and some- 
times the hole of a worm uncovered, with half the 
length of its astonished occupant protruded to the light, 
as if investigating the cause of the sudden unroofing of 
his cell. Here some dry stick broken, or the bark of a 
protruding root peeled off, would betray the step of the 
fugitive ; and there a shrub slightly bent, or a leaf 
turned up and lapped over upon another, or a few 
petals of a wild flower torn off and scattered upon the 
ground, would reveal the rude touch of his foot, or arm, 
or the trailing of his blanket, as he passed. Even on 
the bare rock, if a few grains of earth had been carried 



THE ENEMY IN VIEW. 233 

forward, or a pebble, a leaf, a dry stick, or a bit of moss, 
adhering to the foot had been deposited there, it was 
instantly noticed and understood. The rushing of the 
waters in the brook did not always replace, in a 
moment, every stone that had been disturbed in its bed, 
nor restore the broken limb, nor the bent weed, to its 
place. So quick and intuitive were these observations, 
that the march of the pursuer was as rapid and direct 
as that of the pursued. The one would seldom lose 
more time in hunting for the track, than the other had 
consumed in his various artifices of concealment. 

On arriving at the lake, it was evident that a consid- 
erable number of the enemy had been encamped, and 
that they had just embarked. Their fires were still 
smoking, and the rocks were not yet dry, from which 
they had pushed off their canoes, in the haste of their 
departure. 

The Chippeway was not easily diverted from his 
purpose. With the speed of a chamois, he climbed a 
tall cliff, which, jutting boldly out into the lake, con- 
cealed its great eastern basin from his view. Arrived 
at the summit, he discerned, dimly relieved in the dis- 
tant horizon, a number of moving specks, which he 
knew to be the canoes of the retreating foe. In the 
double hope of avenging the dead, and recovering the 
living from captivity, he continued his course along the 
shores of the lake, and, early the next morning, fell 
once more upon the trail of his enemy. Pursuing it a 
short distance into the forest, it suddenly divided, one 
part continuing on to the east, and one striking off 
toward the south. In neither of them could he discover 
the track of his sister. Her captors had placed her, 

20* 



234 RETRIBUTION- 

with their own women, in the middle of the march, so 
that the large and heavy track of the warriors who 
came after, should cover and obliterate the lighter traces 
of her foot. 

Taking the eastern track, and moving on with accele- 
rated speed, he overtook the flying party in the act of 
encamping for the night. Concealing himself carefully 
from view, and watching his opportunity when all were 
busily engaged in pitching their tents, he raised the ter- 
rible war-whoop, with a volley of well directed arrows, 
and rushed, with his whole band, upon his unarmed 
victims. Not one of them escaped ; and, so sudden and 
complete was the retribution, that not one remained to 
tell where the captive Tula had been carried. The real 
murderers had escaped with their captives, and the ven- 
geance intended for them had fallen upon the heads of 
their innocent comrades. 



Tula was treated with kindness by the Athapuscow 
chief, who claimed her as his own. Every means was 
tried to reconcile her to her new lot, and to make her 
content to be the wife of her enemy. But her heart 
was bound up with the memories of the dead. Her 
parents, her husband, her child, rilled all her thoughts. 
And the idea of being for ever bound to those whose 
hands were stained with the blood of these precious lost 
ones, was not to be endured for a moment. She was 
inconsolable, and her captors, for a time, respected her 
grief. Day after day, they travelled on, with long and 
weary marches, till the face of the country was changed, 



THE TEMPEST. 235 

and the green forest gave way to the barren and rocky- 
waste, that skirts the northern borders of the great val- 
ley of prairies. As they advanced, they grew more 
and more secure against pursuit, and less watchful of 
their captive. At length, she suddenly disappeared 
from their view. 

They had pitched for the night, on the bank of the 
north branch of the Sascatchawan. The night was 
dark and tempestuous. The lightnings flashed vividly 
from the dark cloud, and threatened to " melt the very 
elements with fervent heat." The hoarse thunders 
roared among the wildly careering clouds, and reverbe- 
rated along the shores of the stream, and the cliffs of 
the distant mountains, as if those everlasting barriers 
were rent asunder, and nature were groaning from her 
utmost depths. The Indian feared not death, in what- 
ever shape it might come. But he feared the angry 
voice of the Great Spirit. He shrunk with terror to the 
covert of his tent, and covered his eyes from the fearful 
glare of those incessant flashes, and prayed inwardly to 
his gods. 

The poor disconsolate captive lay trembling under 
the side of the tent. She thought of the storm that had 
swept over her beautiful home, and desolated her heart 
in the spring time of its love. She looked at her savage 
captors, now writhing in the agonies of superstitious 
fear, which her more absorbing private grief alone pre- 
vented her from sharing to the full. They heeded her 
not. They scarcely remembered that she was among 
them. Something whispered to her heart — "No eye 
but that of the Great Spirit sees you. He bids you 
escape from your enemies." 



236 ESCAPE — PURSUIT. 

In the ten-fold darkness that follows the all-revealing 
flash from the storm-cloud. Tula slipped noiselessly 
under the edge of the robe that sheltered her from 
the beating rain, and plunging into the stream, swam 
with the current a few rods, till she was arrested by a 
thick covert of overhanging shrubs, which grew to the 
water's edge. Thinking she might be able to cover 
her head with these bushes, while her body was hid by 
the water, she crept cautiously under, close to the bank, 
when, to her surprise and joy, she found that this shrub- 
bery covered and curiously concealed a crevice in the 
jutting rock, sufficiently large to admit a free entrance 
to an ample cave within. Having carefully adjusted 
every limb and leaf without, and replaced with instinc- 
tive sagacity, the mosses that had been disturbed 
by her feet, she devoutly thanked the good spirit 
for her hope of deliverance, and anxiously watched 
for the morning. 

The dark cloud of the night had passed over. The 
voice of the tempest was hushed. The day broke clear 
and cloudless, amid the singing of birds, and the quick- 
ened music of the swollen stream. The first thought 
of the Athapuscow chief, as he started from his trou- 
bled slumbers, was of his captive. But she was gone. 
With a shrill and angry whoop, he roused the whole 
band, and all started in pursuit. The old woods rung 
again with the whoop and yell of the pursuers, and 
were answered by the sullen echoes of the hills and 
cliffs around. But neither wood, nor hill, nor cliff, 
revealed the hiding-place of the captive. The heavy 
torrents of rain had obliterated every mark of her foot- 
steps, and neither grass, nor sand, nor the yielding soil 



PURSUIT ABANDONED. 237 

of the river-bank afforded any clue to the path she had 
taken. 

Safe in the close covert of her new found retreat, the 
poor captive heard all the loud and angry threats of her 
disappointed pursuers. She even heard the^r frequent 
conjectures and animated discussions of the means to 
be adopted for her recovery, and often, they were so 
near to her place of refuge, that she could see their 
anxious and angry looks, as they passed, and almost 
feel their hands among the bushes that sheltered her, 
and the quick tramp of their feet over the roof of her 
cave. But there was no track or mark, on land or 
water, to guide them to that spot, and so naturally had 
every leaf been adjusted, that it had not attracted a 
single suspicion from any one of those sagacious and 
quick-sighted inquisitors. * 

Two hours of fruitless search for a hiding place, or a 
track that should reveal the course of her flight, brought 
them to the conclusion that the Great Spirit had taken 
her away, and that it was not for man to find her path 
again. With this conviction, they struck their tents, 
swam the stream, and resumed their march to the 
south. 

Too cautious to leave her covert at once, and wearied 
with her anxious watchings, Tula composed herself to 
sleep, as soon as the last sound of the retiring party 
died on her ear. The sun had declined half way to 
his setting, when she awoke. She listened, with a sus- 
picious ear for every sound without. The singing of 
birds, the rustling of the leaves, and the murmur of the 
waters, were all that disturbed the silence of the scene. 
She put her ear to the rock, but it brought nothing to 



238 ON THE HOMEWARD TRACK. 

her sense that revealed the presence of man. With 
extreme caution, she ventured to look out from her 
cave, and, by slow degrees, peering on every side for 
some concealed enemy, she emerged into the light, and 
dropping noiselessly into the stream, swam to a point 
on the opposite shore, from which she could obtain a 
good view of the recent encampment. It was deserted 
and still. Not a trace was left behind, except the 
trampled grass, and the blackened embers. 

Recrossing the stream, she commenced, with a light 
step, and a hopeful spirit, the seemingly impossible 
task of finding her way back to her home and her peo- 
ple. The consciousness of freedom buoyed her up, and 
inspired her with a new hope, at almost every step. 
With a light heart, and an elastic step, she bounded 
away over the desolate waste, that lay between the 
river and the forest, having neither path, nor track, nor 
land-mark, to guide her way, and with nothing but the 
instinct of affection to point out the course she should 
take. She had been so absorbed with her many griefs, 
during the long and weary march hitherto, and so little 
did she dream of the possibility of escape, that she 
had scarcely taken any notice of the direction, or 
attempted to observe any land-marks to guide her 
return. The way by which she had been led was cir- 
cuitous and irregular, and she had only the vague 
general ideas, that her home was near " the star that 
never moves," and that she had been leaving her sha- 
dow behind, to aid her in her solitary wanderings. 
With a hopeful courageous heart, she sought only to 
widen the distance between her cruel captors and her- 
self, trusting that her way would open as she went, 



THE FOREST A MIDNIGHT INTRUDER. 239 

and that her guardian angel, her tutelar divinity, would 
keep her from going astray. Her tutelar divinity was 
the moon, whose light and protection she invoked, with 
a devout, if not an enlightened faith. While she could 
enjoy her mild clear light, she was always happy and 
secure ; hut when those "beams were withdrawn, a 
shadow came over her soul that was full of dark fore- 
bodings and anxious fears. 

She had travelled several leagues, without seeing a 
track of any kind, and without the consciousness of 
fatigue or hunger. When night came on, she was just 
entering a deep forest, whose impenetrable shade made 
a sudden transition from twilight to utter darkness. 
With no star to guide her, and with no appearance of a 
path through thickets which seemed never to have 
been penetrated by a humWi footstep, she was soon 
bewildered, and felt that it was vain to proceed. With 
a few half-ripe nuts for a supper, and the soft moss 
which had gathered about the trunk of a fallen tree for 
a bed, she committed herself to sleep. 

About midnight, her slumbers were disturbed by a 
heavy rustling among the bushes, at no great distance, 
accompanied by a constant crackling, as of some large 
animal, trying to penetrate the thicket. Perceiving that 
it approached nearer at every step, she seized a club, 
with which she had provided herself before entering 
the forest, and hastened to climb into the nearest tree. 
As she ascended, it began to grow lighter overhead. 
The stars looked smilingly down upon her, but it was 
darker than ever below. She breathed a silent prayer 
to the star of her faith — the bright orb where she sup- 
posed her guardian angel resided — and took courage. 



240 THE SIEGE AND THE ASSAULT. 

The mysterious step approached nearer and nearer. 
She soon perceived that it was a bear, and supposed he 
would follow her into the tree. She therefore seated 
herself upon a stout limb, a few feet from the main 
trunk, and prepared to give him a warm reception. 
Presently the heavy trampling ceased, and was fol- 
lowed by a silence vastly more oppressive than the pre- 
vious noise. 

In this condition, the remaining hours of the night 
passed away. With the first light of the morning, the 
shaggy intruder was discerned, quietly reposing near 
the foot of the tree, and showing no signs of being in 
haste to depart. That he was conscious of the presence 
of a stranger, was evident only from an occasional 
upward glance of his eye, and a significant turning of 
the nose in that direction as if there was something 
agreeable in prospect. 

Tula would have been no match for Bruin on level 
ground, but she felt confident of her power in the posi- 
tion she had chosen, and therefore quietly waited the 
movements of her adversary. For two or three hours, 
he behaved himself with the gravity of a true philoso- 
pher, coolly expecting to weary out the patience of his 
victim by a close siege, and so save himself the trouble 
of taking the tree by assault. But Tula was as patient 
and prudent as Bruin, and could endure hunger, and 
thirst, and wakefulness as well as he. Rousing at 
length from his inactivity, he travelled round and 
round the tree, as if taking its measure, and estimating 
the probable result of an encounter. Tula watched his 
motions with more interest than anxiety, hoping soon 
to be relieved from her imprisonment, and at liberty to 






A VICTORY PERILS OF THE WAY. 241 

pursue her journey. It was near noon, when, having 
satisfied himself that offensive measures were necessary, 
he began to climb the tree. Having reached the lead- 
ing branch, and embraced the trunk to raise himself to 
that on which Tula was seated, the brave girl rose sud- 
denly to her feet, and brought down her club upon the 
enemy's nose with such desperate and well directed 
force, as to send him, stunned and insensible, to the 
ground. Without allowing him a moment to recover, 
she leaped down to his side, and dealt a succession of 
heavy blows upon his head, till the blood flowed in tor- 
rents, and his struggles and his breathing ceased. 



In this manner, many days and nights passed on, 
during which she encountered many imminent dan- 
gers, and severe conflicts, and made but little progress. 
Hunger, weariness, a continual sense of danger, and 
that sickness of the heart, which solitude and suspense 
beget, were her inseparable companions. Every day, 
her hope of ultimately reaching the home of her child- 
hood grew fainter and fainter. But she had a woman's 
endurance, and a woman's fertility of resource. She 
never for a moment repented her flight. She would 
have preferred death in any form to a forced espousal 
with the murderer of her family. Sometimes with roots 
and herbs, sometimes with nutritious mosses, and some- 
times with wild fruits and nuts, she continued to satisfy 
the cravings of appetite, and to sustain her severely 
tried fortitude, for the fatigues and perils that were yet 
before her. 

21 



242 AN OPENING, BUT NO LIGHT. 

The forest seemed interminable ; and so indeed it 
might well have been regarded, for she was continually 
travelling round and round, in the same track, having 
only an occasional glimpse of the sun to direct her way, 
or a view of the stars, when she climbed some tall tree 
at night. She knew little of the direction in which she 
was going : but she was sure that that forest lay 
between her enemy and her home, and was therefore 
resolved, at any expense of labor and suffering, to find 
her way through it, or perish in the attempt. 

After several weeks of incredible toil, fatigue, hard- 
ship and danger, the brave persevering Tula emerged 
into a wide opening, having a considerable mountain 
on one side, and a large sheet of water, and a stream 
from the mountain pouring into it, on the other. It 
was a beautiful spot, but the whole aspect of it was 
new and strange. She was confident she had not 
passed that way, while a captive in the hands of the 
Athapuscows. She was now wholly at a loss which 
way to turn. To retrace her steps through the intrica- 
cies of that dark forest, would be as vain as the thought 
of it was appalling. To go on, when she was abso- 
lutely certain she was out of her track, seemed little less 
than madness. To choose either the right hand or the 
left, was to leap in the dark, and involve herself in new 
doubts and difficulties. She needed rest. Her apparel 
was torn by her difficult passages through the tangled 
thickets, and her frequent contests with the enemies she 
found there. Pondering deeply on the difficulties before 
her, she began to think, that if there was any place of 
shelter near, she would make herself a new home, and 
live and die alone in the great wilderness. 



A NEW HOME. 243 

u And why," said she to herself, " why should I 
return to the wigwam of my father? Kaf-ne-wah-go 
is not there. My mother, she has gone with him to 
the spirit land. O-ken- ah-ga waits no longer for my 
return. I left my brave chief in his blood. His voice 
will no longer be heard in the valley, with the hunters, 
nor his shout in the battle. He fell in the glory of his 
strength, like the young oak that is full of sap, and 
whose roots have struck deep into the earth. And my 
child, the son of O-ken-ah-ga, alas ! he has not even a 
grave to sleep in. He lies on the cold bosom of the 
earth, and I know not where. Why then should I 
return to a desolate home, only made more desolate by 
the memory of what it was ? " 

With such thoughts as these, she beguiled her inward 
yearnings for the spot where all her joys had been, and 
where all her hopes were buried. Wandering on the 
shores of the lake and the stream by day, and seeking 
such shelter as she could find in the clefts of the rocks 
at night, she sought for a place where she might pro- 
vide a suitable protection against the cold and the 
storms of winter, which were not far distant. Wild 
berries and fruits afforded her only sustenance for a 
considerable time, until her own ingenuity provided her 
with the means of procuring a more certain substantial 
diet. 

Having found a convenient spot in a deep ravine of 
the mountain, which opened towards the south, and 
was consequently always exposed to the sun, she imme- 
diately commenced the construction of a place to dwell 
in. The spot selected was romantic and beautiful in 
the extreme, and seemed to have been designed by 



244 CABIN-BUILDING. 

nature " for some especial use." It was sufficiently ele- 
vated to command a fine view of the opening, including 
all the meanderings of the river, and the whole extent 
of the lake, and yet it was not difficult of access, nor so 
high as to be too much exposed to the wintry storms. 
It was a little nook, chipped out from the solid rock, 
having a smooth slaty floor, about twelve feet square, 
with a semi-circular recess of about half that depth into 
the side of the mountain. A jutting rock, about ten feet 
above this floor, and overhanging it on every side, 
formed a natural ceiling. It only needed to be enclosed 
on two sides, to make a lodge that any of the great 
caciques of the wilderness might be proud of. 

Fortunately Tula was not entirely destitute of tools 
to work with. A piece of an iron hoop, about six 
inches in length, and the shank of an arrow head, also 
of iron, both of which she had picked up while among 
the Athapuscows, constituted her whole stock. With 
these, which she sharpened upon the rocks, she con- 
trived to cut down a number of young saplings, and 
shape them to her purpose. Planting two of them 
upright upon the outer line of the floor, and laying the 
end of one against the inside, and the end of the other 
against the outside of the cornice, or overhanging ceil- 
ing, she bound them firmly together with green withes. 
In this manner she went all round, leaving a space open 
for a door on the sunny side. This done, she wove it, 
inside and out, with willow boughs, stuffing the inter- 
vening spaces with moss, till it was entirely impervious 
to the weather. The door was of close basket-work 
hung at the top, and secured at the sides, in a storm, or 
during the night, by means of withes fastened round 



HOUSE-KEEPING. 245 

the door-posts. This served the double purpose of door 
and window, while a crevice in the rock above, per- 
formed the part of a chimney. 

The work went on slowly and heavily at first, but 
patience and perseverance, which can conquer all but 
impossibilities, accomplished it before the cold weather 
set in. Meanwhile, the ingenuity of the fair builder 
had found, means to make a fire upon the hearth. Her 
materials for that purpose were two hard sulphureous 
stones, which, by long friction, or hard knocking, pro- 
duced a few sparks. These, communicated to touch- 
wood, were soon formed into a blaze. 

When fruits, berries and nuts failed, her ready inge- 
nuity supplied her with other means of sustaining life. 
She had, among her scanty stock of furniture, a few 
deer-sinews, which, with the Indians, are a common 
substitute for thread. With the aid of these, she man- 
aged to snare patridges, rabbits and squirrels. She also 
killed several beavers and porcupines. The sinews of 
the rabbit's legs and feet were twisted with great dex- 
terity, to supply the place of deer-sinews, when they 
were gone. Their skins also, with those of the squir- 
rels, served to replenish her exhausted wardrobe, sup- 
plying, under her skilful hand, a neat and warm suit 
of winter clothing. Her industry was as untiring as 
her ingenuity was fruitful of resources. Forlorn as her 
situation was, she was composed and resigned, if not 
contented, and seemed to find- pleasure in employing 
every moment of her waking hours in some useful or 
ornamental contrivance. 

Her dress evinced much taste, and exhibited no little 
variety of ornament. The materials, though rude, were 

21* 



246 TASTE, INDUSTRY, ECONOMY. 

very curiously wrought, and so judiciously arranged, as 
to give to the whole a pleasing and romantic effect. 
Her tunic was composed of the skins of squirrels and 
rabbits, in alternate strips of grey and white. It was 
secured at the waist by a belt of skin, beautifully 
wrought with porcupine quills, colored pebbles, and 
strips of bark of various brilliant hues. Her mantle, 
which was large, was of the fairest and most delicate 
skins, arranged with a certain uniformity and harmony 
of design, which gave it all the grace and beauty, with- 
out the stiffness, of a regular pattern. It had a tasteful 
border, of brilliant feathers, and, like the belt before 
described, was fastened by a clasp of an unique and 
original contrivance, being made of the beaks and 
claws of her captives, arranged and secured so as to 
interlock with each other. Her head-dress, leggings 
and moccasins, were equally perfect in style and effect. 
Besides accomplishing all this work, in her solitude, 
and even laying in a stock of provisions in advance, 
sufficient for her wants, in case of a long season of 
storms, sickness, or any other exigency, she had found 
time to make several hundred fathoms of net-twine, by 
twisting the inner rind, or bark, of willow boughs, into 
small lines. Of these, she intended to make a fishing- 
net, as soon as the spring should open, and thus enlarge 
her sources of subsistence and enjoyment. 



It was past mid-winter. The snow lay deep and 
hard upon all the northern hills and valleys. The 
lakes and rivers were frozen. The fountains of nature 



THE HERMITAGE DISCOVERED. 247 

were sealed up, and verdure, and fruitfulness, and 
almost all the elements of life, seemed to have followed 
the sun in his journey to the far south. A company of 
English traders, under the guidance of a party of 
Indians, were traversing the country from Hudson's 
Bay to the Northern Ocean, in quest of furs and pelt- 
ries. Emerging from a deep forest into a broad open 
plain, they discovered the track of a strange snow-shoe, 
which, from its lightness, they judged to belong to a 
woman. Not knowing of any encampment in that 
vicinity, it excited the more curiosity. They followed 
it. It led them a considerable distance out of their 
way, across the valley, and into the gorge of the moun- 
tain on its southern side. Pursuing it still, as it 
ascended by a circuitous path, they came to a small 
cabin, perched like an eagle's nest in the clefts of the 
rock. They entered, and found a young and beautiful 
woman sitting alone at her work. It was Tula, the 
hermitess of Athabasca. For more than seven moons 
she had not seen a human face, nor heard a human 
voice, nor did she ever expect again to see the one, or 
hear the other. She had become reconciled to her lot. 
She loved the solitude where her spirit could commune 
with the departed, undisturbed, and where only the 
sun, the moon, and the stars, and the Great Spirit that 
controled and guided them all, could read her thoughts, 
and know the history of her griefs. 

The first surprise being over, Tula offered the stran- 
gers a place by her fire, and such other hospitalities as 
her cabin afforded. 

"How comes the dove alone in the eagle's nest?" 
enquired the leader of the party. — And then, regarding 



248 SOLITUDE RELUCTANTLY ABANDONED. 

her with a look of admiration, added — " does she not 
fear the hawk or the vulture, here in the cold cliffs of 
the mountain 7 " 

Tula replied by relating the story of her life — her 
bereavement — her captivity — her escape — her weary 
wanderings — her hardships — and the repose she had 
found in her solitude ; and concluded by saying, " If 
the eagle's nest be lonely and cold, it is quiet and safe. 
It is not too high for the moon to smile upon. It is not 
too cold for Tula." 

" Would the ' singing bird' seek out her people, and 
let her song be heard again among the trees of the 
valley ? " 

"Tula is no longer the singing bird. Her song is 
shut up in her heart. Her heart is with her kindred in 
the spirit land. Her father's cabin is more desolate 
than the wilderness, or the mountain top. Her tree is 
plucked up by the roots. It cannot live again." 

After some considerable persuasion, in which the 
voice of the humane Englishman — suggesting that, if 
the Ottawas had discovered her retreat, the Athapus- 
cows might discover it also, — had its full share of 
weight, the fair hermitess consented to accompany the 
strangers ; though she could not conceal her regret, in 
abandoning her snug little castle, to set off on a new 
pilgrimage, she knew not whither. 

" It matters little to Tula where she goes, so that she 
does not meet the Athapnscow. His hands are red 
with the blood of her father, her husband, her child. 
Let her never see his face, or walk in his shadow." 



I 



INDIAN COURTSHIP. 249 

The singular romance of Tula's story, the comeliness 
of her person, and her approved accomplishments, 
touched the hearts of some of the young braves of the 
party. They had not gone far on their way, before a 
contest arose between them, who, according to imme- 
morial usage among the tribes, should claim the privi- 
lege of making her his wife. The dispute — to which 
she was no party, for her views were not so much as 
consulted in the matter — ran very high, and had nearly 
resulted in serious consequences. The poor girl was 
actually won and lost, at wrestling, by near half a 
score of different men, in the course of as many days. 
When, at length, a compromise was effected, and the 
prize awarded to Lak-in-aw, a young warrior of the 
Temiscamings, Tula refused to receive the pipe at his 
hands, or to listen in any way to his suit. 

" Tula is buried in the grave of O-ken-ah-ga," she 
said. " Tula will walk alone on the earth. Her heart 
is in the spirit land. It will never come back. It has 
nothing here to love." 



Onward — onward — over interminable fields of snow 
and ice, where scarce a green thing appeared to relieve 
the utter desolation, the party proceeded, with their 
prize, on their journey to the far north. She was 
treated with chivalric tenderness and respect, and her 
comfort and convenience consulted in all the arrange- 
ments of the way. She needed but little indulgence, 
and solicited none. She was capable of enduring the 
fatigues and hardships of a man. She never flagged 



250 A NEW PARTY A JOYFUL SURPRISE. 

in the march, nor lingered a moment, when the word 
was given to go forward. 

In traversing a deep valley near the eastern extremity 
of the Great Slave Lake, their track was crossed by 
that of a considerable party of Indians, returning from 
an expedition to the fur regions of the north. Their 
course lay along the southern border of the lake. Per- 
ceiving their encampment at no great distance, on the 
other side of the valley, it was resolved to visit them, 
and, if they were found to be friendly, to join their 
camp for the night. On approaching the spot, they 
were met by the chief, who, with a few attendants, 
came out to bid them welcome to his tent. He was a 
fine specimen of a young Indian brave — one who, in 
his green youth, had gained laurels, which it usually 
requires a life-time to win. His costume, though adapt- 
ed to the severity of the climate, was tasteful and pic- 
turesque, and so fitted and arranged as to develop, to 
the best advantage, the admirable proportions of his 
person. 

The parley that ensued was a fine specimen of 
Indian courtesy and diplomacy. But it was suddenly 
and violently interrupted, when Tula, who had remain- 
ed in the rear of her party, with the Englishmen, came 
up. At the first sight of the young chief, she uttered a 
grief loud and piercing shriek — for the extremes of joy 
and use similar tones and gestures — and rushing for- 
ward, pushed aside friend and stranger alike, and flung 
herself upon his neck, exclaiming — " Ish4a-le-6'Wah ! 
— *my brother ! my brother ! "